A Christmas Wish, The Usherhall, Edinburgh, Review:
**** 4 Stars
“A Wish Come True”
The MGA Academy of the performing arts ends 2017 with their now traditional Christmas spectacular, “A Christmas Wish” performing in the grandeur of Edinburgh’s Usherhall. Drawing together part time students from the “Fierce” Theatre School. The students of the Junior school with “Stage Academies” and “Stage Acadamini” fully represented, and the entire full-time students from the Musical Theatre, Dance and Acting programmes. Altogether leading to a 200 plus strong cast.
The team work also extends to the production team with Marcella Mcdonald, Sup Dhanasunthorn, Alex Risbridger and John Burlington joining forces on Choreography and Marcella Mcdonald, Neil Metcalfe, Gerard Bentall and Simon Hanson combining talents on Musical Direction. The production is created and directed by Murray Grant and Marcella Mcdonald.
The over riding theme of the production is drawn heavily from New York’s Radio City Musical Hall’s famed, Rockettes Christmas show. With fully staged production numbers interweaving Tap, Jazz and interpretive dance breaks along side smaller group and solo numbers. Stand out moments include “somewhere in my memory” with harmonies soaring around the splendid hall. Also “Once in Royal David City” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” really showcase the power of the vocals, delivered impeccably in four-part harmonies that send shivers down the Spine.
Dance wise the outstanding moment of the entire production is “Let it go/Winter” a fully choregraphed piece that showcase the talented ability of the dance students, with beautiful top lines, and deft grace of the physical body that’s explored in a stunning visual way, it really is a triumph of a moment in the show.
Performances from individuals are universally excellent, and those that stand out include “Paul Clark’s” vocal solo performance on “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” also strong vocally are “Liam Charles Carlyon”, “Gareth Williams” on their solo vocal moments. Another sparkling moment is a comedy tour de force from “Ross Jamieson” during “Ding Dong Merrily on High”. In the realms of Dance and movement, “Kieran Wilson”, “Matthew Scott” “Jordan McCue” and “Frankie Duncan” all stand out for very individual but universally excellent dance turns throughout the production.
Why only 4 stars then? The draw back of such a large cast is the time it takes to move them on and off stage, further hampered by the fact that the Usherhall is in fact a concert hall and not a Theatre and thus very little wing space exists. There were too many long moments of darkness listening to hundreds of feet walking across the stage which broke down the flow of the production. With the choice made to use backing tracks there was no orchestra to provide covering music during these changes. Even an addition of a host to provide links would have detracted from the darkness, something hopefully which can be developed for future productions.
“A Christmas Wish” truly delivered beautiful performances and showcased the incredible talent of the next generation of performers at MGA and each and every performer should be proud. As the Snow fell across the Usherhall to the strains of “ I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” for one sparkling moment, it was all wish come true, for performers and audience alike, and that alone made this a charming, beautiful and endlessly watchable production.
MGA Academy Presents “A Christmas Wish”, The Usherhall, Edinburgh, run ended.