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  • Stacey Ireson

Theatre Review: Stand in the Spotlight Senior Showcase | Spotlight Theatre

Disclaimer: Complimentary tickets were gifted for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own

On Saturday night, the girls and I enjoyed an evening with the Spotlight Theatre Senior group at their Annual Showcase “Stand in the Spotlight”  After seeing their production of “Frozen Jr” earlier this year, I was looking forward to seeing what else they could do.

Under the creative direction of Amanda Hall and her team including Liam Petruccio-Hall, Sophie Petruccio-Hall, Callum Hall and with guidance from a team of tutors made up of Bethany Wear, Laura Ellis, Maddie Pritchard and Tilly Wishart, students are given classes dedicated to acting, singing and dance as well as specific technique classes in tap and ballet at all levels. Students are given a range of opportunities to show off their skills, including a full musical production and culminating in an end-of year showcase.  And what a showcase it was!

With a cast of 24 youngsters, all singing, dancing and acting their hearts out,  it would be impossible for me to talk about each of the performers separately and it would be terribly unfair (not to mention incredibly difficult) for me to pick out individual performances.  Instead, I’m going to tell you about the wide range of talent that was featured in the showcase and some particular highlights.

There really was something for everyone in this showcase.  The students demonstrated their amazing versatility by switching effortlessly from a fantastically creepy “Beetlejuice” mash-up to the fabulously stylish “A Chorus Line" segment to the surprisingly authentic “Only Fools and Horses” number. 

During the evening we were spoiled with a wide variety of strong solo vocal performances from the comically sweet “Taylor the Latte Boy” to a classic rendition of The Beatles “Yesterday” to the uniquely stripped back version of the 80’s hit “Maneater”.  There was even an impressive performance of “My Way” with a vocal tone that would fit right in with the original “Rat Pack”.

This talented bunch of youngsters weren’t afraid to tackle some serious musical theatre heavy-hitters, with impressive performances of “Journey to the Past” (Anastasia), “Times are Hard for Dreamers” (Amelie) and “Spotlight” (Everyone’s Talking about Jamie).  

There were a number of beautifully executed dance routines in a variety of disciplines.  I’m always very partial to a tap dance so I adored the “Dancing Fool” routine, but I was equally impressed with all of the other dance numbers.

The dancers exhibited remarkable precision and grace and they adapted perfectly to the demands of each style.  One of the routines was even choreographed by one of the students (Hemi Lewis), so it’s wonderful to see that it isn’t just on-stage disciplines that are being taught at Spotlight.

It was great to see so many of the students had a natural affinity for comedy and this was perfectly displayed in numbers such as “His Name is Lancelot”, “Stepsister’s Lament” and “The History of Wrong Guys”.  

The undeniable showstopper of the evening was “I’m Just Ken” from the recent “Barbie” movie. Each performer fully embraced the character of the song, fearlessly pushing boundaries and adding a touch of delightful absurdity. Their commitment to the roles and willingness to appear a bit ridiculous captivated the audience, who responded with uproarious laughter and enthusiastic applause. It was a standout moment that left a lasting impression on everyone present.

The showcase featured more than just musical performances; it also included a captivating selection of dramatic monologues, spanning from classic to contemporary works. Each scene was delivered with impressive skill and enthusiasm. I was particularly impressed with the famous monologue from the “Barbie” movie. The performer didn't merely imitate the original but brought a unique interpretation, making the piece distinctly their own and drawing out every moment of emotion.

The smaller group performances offered additional opportunities for students to shine, showcasing their unique talents and collaborative skills. In the duet “What I Was Looking For,” the performers exhibited remarkable chemistry, and the ensemble pieces “Up the Ladder” and “Nowadays” were characterised by flawless synchronicity in both style and timing.

The heart-breaking “With You” was sung beautifully and the accompanying dance soloist complemented the tone of the piece perfectly.  Finally, the group performance of “The Six Megamix” infused the stage with vibrant energy and infectious enthusiasm and was the perfect way to round off the showcase.

I loved it when the teachers also made an appearance on stage in a couple of the dance routines.  I thought this was a lovely way to illustrate the bond between the tutors and their students, and was also a fantastic opportunity for the tutors to show off their own skills.  It was easy to see how much experience they had to share with their students.

Ultimately, it was the group performances that stood out as particularly special, showcasing the students' ability to come together and demonstrate their exceptional teamwork. The high-energy, vibrant renditions of "Something About This Night," "Seize the Day," and "The Time Warp" were electrifying and the grand finale, "Shut Up and Raise Your Glass," was a joyous celebration of their collective achievements throughout the evening, leaving the audience in awe of their talent and with huge smiles on the our faces.

Special marks have to be awarded for performing “Facade” from “Jekyll and Hyde”, which is probably one of my favourite musical ensemble numbers of all time.  

I also need to give a huge acknowledgement to the skill of the technical team, composed of Nigel Newton, Tom Mowat, Rob Ketteridge and Bronwen Webster.  The lighting and sound design was apparently put together in just 24 hours, and it added so much to the mood and atmosphere of each performance.  The cherry on top of the proverbial cake!

Overall, the showcase revealed an impressive level of talent among these young performers.  The audience was clearly enthralled, with enthusiastic applause and I’m sure there were some very proud parents amongst us.

Most importantly of all, the students appeared to be having the best time up on stage with their friends, sharing a hobby that they clearly love with their loved ones.  

As a huge fan of theatre, both amateur and professional, I cannot overstate the importance of celebrating young talent and Spotlight Theatre are clearly doing a tremendous amount of work to nurture the future of theatre in Nottingham. 

If you think your child would enjoy being part of something special, like Spotlight Theatre, then can I strongly suggest you check out their website to find out about everything they have to offer.  

Massive congratulations again to the whole Spotlight team.  I hope you keep on shining for many years to come and I can’t wait to see what you do next!



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