REVIEW: On The Town, University of Chichester students

It's going to be a tough old world out there for the graduating students on the musical theatre course at the University of Chichester.

Monday, 26th March 2018, 4:56 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:28 am
On The Town
On The Town

But their tour of Bernstein’s On The Town, which concluded at Winchester’s Theatre Royal on Sunday, showed they are more than ready to compete with the best.

The third-year students brought to the production endless enthusiasm, a huge amount of skill and a brightness all too often lacking in plenty of fully-professional productions.

These are triple-threat students, and they acted, sang and danced their socks off in a way which suggested there are plenty of bright futures out there just waiting to be grabbed.

Just as good musicals should, Bernstein’s musical combines humour and poignancy, a tricky tightrope which the cast walked beautifully in this story of three war-time sailors in search of girls amid the bright lights of New York City as they venture on the shortest of short shore leaves – just possibly their last, who knows…

As the sailors, Kody Mortimer (Gabey), Joe Kelly (Ozzie) and Harry Francis (Chip) each showed themselves to be complete stage naturals, touching all the right buttons to differentiate their characters nicely.

Along the way, they meet up with Ivy Smith (Erin Tingle), Claire DeLoone (Kirsty White) and Hildy (Charlotte Fishwick), a trio which matches them every step of the way in terms of stage prowess and stage presence.

It seems terribly unfair to single anyone out, but one of the six has very obviously got the makings of a major star. If you were there on Sunday, you will know who I mean.

But I won’t say who because the beauty of this production was that everyone worked so well to deliver the goods, a great example of a cast selflessly supporting each other in the best interests of the show.

Maybe the first half was a little overlong; and certainly the printed programme was a disappointment – a great slab of almost unreadable text from the show’s writers and lyricists when an article about the course the students are on would have been far more interesting. How good it would have been to read about the way the students are selected, the challenges that are set them and how they respond.

But that’s a minor quibble on a night which came together beautifully – and which confirmed that the University of Chichester is almost certainly giving its musical-theatre students everything they are going to need out there in the big wide world.

They have studied, they have toured, they have performed and they have wowed. They are ready.

Congratulations to the whole cast: Sophienne Duncan - Madame Dilly; Ben Stone – Pitkin W Bridgework; Beth Horan – Lucy Schmeeler; Anya Jennings – Flossie; Flossie's Friend, Molly – Jennifer Marx; Chloe Shepherd – Little Old Lady; Lewis Reece-Jones – Figment; Jordan Pendleton – Mr Uperman; Ethan Whitcombe – Announcer; Rajah Bimmy – Bram de Vet; Briana Paine – Diana Dream/Dolores Dolores; Daisy Irving, Jasmine Ward – various ensemble roles.