Monday, 7 May 2012

BUSOM – Boys vs Girls (2012 Summer Concert) [Review]

BUSOM – Boys vs Girls (2012 Summer Concert) [Review] Escape, Student Central – Thursday 3rd May 2012

And here we come to the final BUSOM (Bradford University Society of Operettas and Musicals) performance of the year, the Summer Concert that took place in Escape. With the chorus split into boys vs girls (well, roughly) and raffle tickets available for the interval draw, it was time for a ninety-minute exploration of songs from musicals and television shows on the theme of the battle of the sexes. So, let the fight commence!

The first act opened with the chorus performing ‘Anything You Can Do’ from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ which was a popular song to open with, with the chorus split into a fun call and response set-up. There were some early nerves and a handful of missed cues but the song was delivered well and with funny punctuations from Jon Carter and comedic acting from Emelie Ollila and Zoe Howe. Tom Lehrer’s ‘When You Are Old And Grey’ followed with Dave Jennings bringing his usual spot-on character acting to the fore. Both him and Zoe tackled the fast-paced and lyrically-tricky song well after a few tongue-ties early on, both bringing the song about an arguing married couple of life.

‘Crazier Than You’ from the ‘Addams Family’ musical was a fun performance by Melissa Barret and Anna Garlick, both singing powerfully. It wasn’t the strongest of the night’s performances with a few pacing and key issues but it was a fun performance nonetheless. ‘Master of the House’ came next and Carl Mitchell, leading the ‘Les Miserables’ piece, was full of character and delivered the lines well and in character but it was Helen Plant with her Cockney accent and exciting performance, bringing the words to life, that stole the number and with Carl and the chorus made this song one of the highlights of the show.

‘You Can Drive A Person Crazy’ from ‘Company’ was a song dominated by Lyndsey Niven’s vocals but timing between her, Catrina Lodge and Joanne Brotherton was spot-on. Poppy Brooks continued the act with a strong solo performance of ‘I’m Not That Girl’. It’s not one of the better songs from ‘Wicked’ in my opinion but Poppy sung it beautifully, matched by a simple, touching piano backing.

The female chorus of ‘Men’ from ‘Calamity Jane’ saw a strong performance, particularly from the front row of vocalists, compensating from a slightly quieter line up at the back. The strong musical side was backed up by some complimentary acting from Christine and Anna on the “boys” side who added an extra dimension to the performance.

Alice De Jong, the musical director for the night who was a great personality bridging between the songs, joined up with Nick Smith for Rent’s ‘Tango Maureen’, creating a pleasing partnership but they struggled with some of the higher notes and the volume of the piano for this number, but it was a great listen.

Up next was ‘Guys and Dolls’ from the musical of the same name, brought to the filled-up Escape Bar by Stuart Sellens and Jon Carter, a double-act I always look forward to and wouldn’t be disappointed. Stuart delivered his lines with vigour and enthusiasm as ever and, though the stronger of the pair through the number, they bounced off each other well to bring the story to life and was a great way to head towards the final number of the act, which was ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ from Disney’s ‘Mulan’.

With Anna Garlick in a bright yellow hat she was as enjoyable, enthusiastic and bubbly as ever as the soldier performing the song, grasping the character well, even if her vocals of the song were more shouted than sung, though that fits in with the army nature of the tune. The female chorus were a little subdued for this number, but the male side really kicked up the delivery when teamed with Anna’s vocals.

It was then time to grab a drink during the interval and see if anybody was lucky enough to win something in the raffle. The highlight of this break for me was either winning a Body Shop gift pack or hearing the line to the winner of the mystery prize “come and see me after and I’ll give you the surprise” (ooh, err, missus), I’m not sure which.

It was back to ‘Guys and Dolls’ for the opening of the second act with famous hit ‘Luck Be A Lady’, with both sides of the chorus bouncing off each other well, creating a very good recreation of the hit, complimented by a bouncing piano tune.

Heading into the world of the internet next with Christine and Naomi Fowler singing ‘My Eyes (On The Rise)’ from act two of ‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog’, and they did a great performance, working well together, even if the actual song itself wasn’t the best choice from the amusing collection of songs from Joss Whedon.

Next up was ‘Song That Goes Like This’ from ‘Spamalot,’ a song I heard for the first time in a previous BUSOM production and loved, and enjoyed it just as much the second time around with lots of effort both vocally and in acting from James Wheeldon and Emily Grace Bennett, with a brilliant ending that segwayed into far and away the key moment of the show, ‘Two Ladies’ from ‘Cabaret’, performed by James, Emelie and Stuart, the latter camping it up in a blonde wig and high voice as the second of the two ladies. The number sounded great and was a fine performance, with the audience in stitches over Stuart’s performance, which he clearly had put lots of time into. James and Emelie equally had a ball and the three of them stole the show in my opinion.

Heading back into the territory of the women, Lyndsey Niven was at her best performing ‘I Hate Men’ from ‘Kiss Me Kate’, even jokingly referencing her own husband in her characteristic portrayal, generating some laughs with her tongue-in-cheek acting. Never has the word ‘men’ ever said with so much venom, like an angry female Basil Fawlty.

‘Avenue Q’ ditty ‘The More You Ruv Someone’ followed and Emelie’s performance was very strong with support from Lyndsey and Emily, and she stayed on to duet with Bill Harding for ‘I’ll Never Tell’ from the musical episode of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ which was a great performance with smatterings of Bill’s creepy-smiley alter-ego and a well-timed cameo from Stuart Sellens as a blonde-Buffy complete with crucifix.

Penultimate number ‘It’s A Scandal! It’s An Outrage!’ from ‘Oklahoma’ was a song that was slow to get going but the chorus worked well aside Nick Smith on lead vocals, who performed with gusto, and Stuart in his wig alongside Christine and Anna, brought the song to an end with much laughter.

The spirit of Barry Manilow was channelled for the final number with the uptempo, singable ‘Copacabana’ creating a cracking ending to the ‘Boys vs Girls’- themed evening.

The 2012 Summer Concert was another top show from BUSOM with some hilarious stand out moments plus, of course, some excellent performances. Stuart, who was both entertaining to watch with or without his blonde wig, was as great to hear and see as ever, alongside strong performances by all of the cast especially Dave, Carl, Helen, Lyndsey, Poppy and Emelie. The song choices were a fun selection from across the spectrum and there was very little not to enjoy about any of the performances. Another fun production from BUSOM.

7.5/10 See photos at

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