READER REVIEW: Hit after hit at Ariel’s fifth Musicality show

Musicality 5 at The Hawth by Ariel. Directed by Nicci

Musicality 5
Musicality 5

Hopson, musically Directed by Abi Paige, choreographed by Bev Lock, Jacob Fearney, Zach and Kerry Smith

Ariel’s Musicality 5 at The Hawth was a vibrant showcase of beautifully chosen songs from some of the world’s favourite musicals, delivered by an immensely talented choir – although calling a company so rich with solo talents who also dance and act merely ‘a choir’ is perhaps slightly underselling them.

This was Ariel’s fifth Musicality and once again they delivered with unflagging verve, energy and enthusiasm.

Hit after hit was performed in an enjoyably unstoppable torrent, with clever lighting making the most of a well-judged programme, which ranged from comedy to heartbreak.

And the audience loved it, whooping their congratulations, rising to their feet and laughing out loud at some outrageous comic moments.

It was marvellous, life-enhancing stuff, and if one had to sum it up in one word, that word would be ‘terrific’.

But even in a production, which was uniformly first class, there were some stand-out moments.

First of these was an excerpt from Fiddler on the Roof by Matt Roberts with his endearing rendition of If I were a Rich Man…

Pocket rocket Karen Brown put in a sassy and spirited performance of Bend and Snap from Legally Blonde, which was in lovely contrast to her second solo, which wrung pathos and regret from Sister Act’s The Life I Never Had.

For me, the stand-out song of the night was Confrontation from Jekyll and Hyde in which Simon Fellingham put in a powerful performance as the tortured Dr Jekyll trying to free himself from his evil alter ego.

Simon, also a talented guitarist, has a sweet timbre to his voice, and this was shocking stuff, faultlessly played and cleverly staged as he descended further and further into his personal hell.

By way of complete contrast I Believe from The Book of Mormon saw Chris Brown have his audience crying with laughter at his naively shiny-faced Mormon missionary wrestling with doubt and a couple of very reluctant non-believers.

Chris was also terrific as a cynical Che Guevera singing And The Money Came Rolling In from Evita.

It was good to see younger members of the company – fresh from their recent triumph at Chequer Mead in Les Miserables – back with rather more light-hearted numbers,

Ticket to Loserville, Jarrod Hopson’s very funny and painful Being a Geek from 13 The Musical, and The Nicest Kids in Town from Hairspray.

A really lovely three-parter from Jacob Fearney, Chris Brown and Matt Roberts singing Belle from Notre Dame de Paris, was quickly followed by Matt Godfrey and a deliciously naughty Rowena Alloush in A little Bit of Priest, a duet from Sweeney Todd which was as funny as it was stomach-churning.

Papa Can You Hear Me? from Yentl was a beautifully-delivered heart-breaker from Erin Sheerham.

And Jacob Fearney – a stand-out dancer – also gave a fine performance of It’s Hard to Speak My Heart as the factory owner accused of murdering a 13-year-old from Parade.

While Marisha Jenkins soared thrillingly through the poignant Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, from Phantom of the Opera.

A great show, from an infectiously enthusiastic choir who deserve all the plaudits, which will undoubtedly come their way.

By Geraldine Durrant