site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Corn Exchange - Showstopper

25th March 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Huge potential unfulfilled

Show Billed as comedy but just wasn't funny

Showstopper, at The Corn Exchange, on Saturday March 25

Rebecca Thornhill is a consummate skilful performer who portrays the character of Carole James, a forgotten heroine from the golden age of the musicals in Dan Rebellato's play Showstopper.

It was inspired by Marni Nixon,who famously dubbed the singing voices for a host of Hollywood musicals including Deborah Carr in The King and I , Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

The problem with this production, which is billed as 'a comedy about love, glamour and The Sound of Music' is simply that it's not very funny.

As the play begins we find this English ex-pat diva in a sound studio, recording a new song for My Fair Lady. True there are moments when you chuckle and there are some good one liners but this is a much darker play exposing the exploitation of the movie industry.

The dialogue between James and the engineer in the control room reveal much about the bitchy world of Hollywood and her relationship with her gay agent Larry. She is desperate to appear in front of the camera and auditions for a part as the mother superior in The Sound of Music where she briefly meets Julie Andrews, she is her greatest fan, but is destined to play a small role as a singing nun.

She is besotted by Audrey Hepburn who presses a record for her but this tinsel town illusion is dashed as the harsh reality of Hollywood emerges.

Thornhill has only two songs to sing which was such a pity as she has a beautiful voice. Her rendition of Just The Way You Look Tonight was electric.

The set designed by Anna Bliss Scully comprising of two screens one covered in wallpaper did not really suggest the bustle of a recording studio. The other was a blank screen that had film images projected onto it but they added little to the storyline. Directed by Pip Minnithorpe this is a play that has huge potential but was not fully realised. Pity.