At the end of the first section of this concert, the man sitting next to us pronounced it as ‘awesome’; he was correct, and it became even more awesome as the evening progressed. This is why, half an hour after I arrived home, I’m still reeling and wondering just what words I can possibly use to adequately describe just how absolutely outstanding this evening was.
A concert of show songs is fairly common among musical societies, but BMT is not just any old musical society – actually it’s not old at all, but a mere babe of three years – and this most certainly wasn’t any old concert. For starters, the eight-piece on-stage band, led by musical director James Stead, would have been almost worth the price of admission on its own, such a great sound did the musicians make. Furthermore, the back-screen projections depicting each section, plus some fantastic lighting effects, did so much to enhance what was already something very special, and what a great idea to have Mark Doherty signing part of the Sister Act section – surely a first.
There were thirteen different sections in all, ranging from The Sound of Music and Mamma Mia to Saturday Night Fever and We Will Rock You, and from The Lion King and Chicago to Spamalot and Sister Act. With many of the numbers specially – and brilliantly – arranged by James Stead and some of the best choreography (courtesy of James Dixon-Box) I have seen on the local stage, not to mention the 26 highly talented people taking part, it was little wonder that the capacity audience raised the roof with their cheering and applause.
The majority of numbers were chorus-based, although there was plenty of opportunity for soloists, and everyone at some point had their time in the spotlight, which is why it would be invidious on this occasion to pick out anyone in particular. Suffice to say that, to quote an oft over-used phrase, there wasn’t a single weak link anywhere.
I could list every item that was performed but I have neither the space nor the inclination to do that, so instead I’ll home in on just a few numbers that, for me, were real highlights: ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria’, sung not by the nuns but, most unusually, a trio of men; a gorgeous arrangement of ‘The lonely goatherd’; the wonderful ‘Find your grail’ and, showing off the evening’s choreography to fantastic effect, ‘Cell block tango’ and ‘Sing, sing, sing’.
A programme note told us that ‘Our vision was to be the premier amateur musical company on the south coast, striving for excellence in music, dance and drama. We hope that after this evening you will agree that we are well on our way to achieving that vision.’ BMT, you most certainly are.