Popstars The 90’s Musical, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Review:
***** 5 Stars
“ A joy of pop music in the world of musical Theatre”
Hark back to the 90’s a decade that was beset by boy and girl bands topping the pop charts and the odd questionable fashion statement is evident, especially for the folks of an unnamed school and town in middle America. Three girls are tuned into an MTV channel biography special to discover music mogul Simon Austin (a pure take on Simon Cowell) is offering a three-year recording contract to the lucky winner of a talent contest.
The girls take on the contest and are determined to win at all costs and jettison their boyfriends, its that rejection that spurs the boys to club together to form a band and also enter the contest, and with that the plot is set, a journey of self-discovery for all concerned with a heavy dose of 90’s pop classics thrown into the mix.
As thin as the story may be, Director Andy Johnston knows his material well and turns out a fun filled frolic of a show that embraces the youth in all of us. Performances are uniformly excellent from the entire company but especially, Maija Niva as “Shannon” who delivers a true heartless bitch but never strays into panto villainy and keeps it real. Matt McDonagh delivers a sweet as sugar take on “Mark” but has a rich as honey voice during his solo’s and is truly watchable. One stand out performance is Matthew Steel as “Patrick” its hard to believe Matthew is just 16 with such a polished and mature turn to his performance and a soaring tenor vocal, which was evident earlier in the year during his performance at Edinburgh’s Kings in Wizard of Oz, big things await this talented performer. The entire cast work hard especially in delivering Felicity Thomas’s precise, engaging and physically strong Choreography.
With no less that 27 musical numbers across the show including “Believe” by Cher, “Hit me Baby, One More Time” by Britney Spears to numbers by Celine Dion, New Kids on the Block, Back Street Boys, Right Said Fred, M People, Spice Girls and Wet Wet Wet along with so many more. Musical Director James McCutcheon has a big job on his hands and he has achieved much from the various Harmonies and it flows effortlessly across the footlights. McCutcheon also leads a first-class band in the pit including a startling Lead Guitar Solo, A joy of pop music in the world of musical Theatre.
This show also shines by the simplicity of its staging, using a bare stage with a large video screen and relies on James Gow’s inventive, engaging and west end standard Lighting design. Gow has been able to create a live pop concert vibe for all the musical numbers whilst retaining the depth of lighting needed for the dramatic scenes, a true achievement.
Allegro have truly pushed the boundaries of amdram and should be applauded for taking on a show which on paper appears to have little to offer but on stage is a joyful look back at a decade that is often maligned. The heart of the story is so true, regardless of whether the boy band or girl band win the contest they will always have each other. A very valuable lesson for us all. Well done to the popstars of Allegro on a fab fab show!
Allegro productions present, Popstars the 90’s Musical, Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh, Run Ended.