Mountview theatre students stage sell-out musical
While thousands of people queue up every year for The X Factor and suchlike trying to fast-track it to fame and fortune, performing arts students up and down the country dedicate themselves to the hard work it actually takes to perfect the craft, fully aware that the slog doesn’t stop after their exams. They understand they will be going into a tough industry, fierce with competition and with the highest expectations of quality. Students like those at Mountview Academy, one of the UK’s leading drama schools, some of whom are currently performing in Girlfriends at the Bertie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.
The show, an early work by the renowned composer Howard Goodall, is set on an airbase during World War II and follows a group of women as they take up work with the RAF to support the war effort. It’s an odd choice of show in some ways, feeling somewhat dated for the young performers, littered with cliché and with a relentless flow of pretty unmemorable numbers. On the other hand it presents an opportunity for a large, female-dominated cast with a selection of leading roles and chances for those in the supporting company too. Vocals for the leads are challenging, with difficult, meandering melodies, and probably the highlight of the show are some lovely full-cast harmonies to get stuck into.
Ably supported by a small live band, the company delivered professionally with exceptional vocals all round, nicely balanced and pitch-perfect in the big chorus numbers. Nikkola Burnhope played the role of Lou with superb control, looking absolutely at home in the part, and Aaron Hayes Rogers showed off mature vocal skills in the part of Gareth, bringing some fun to the show, particularly in the number We Dance On, a duet sung, acted and danced well with Grace Osborn. Grace also teamed up very agreeably with Ellena Leigh – well cast in the partnership of the “terrible twins”, with their voices and personalities complementing each other effectively. Ellena in particular shone as the conscientious objector, handling some tricky vocal passages in the opening number with ease and being thoroughly watchable throughout.
It was ambitious having such a large cast in such a small space, and the neat staging did help to facilitate this. However, it also caused awkward blocking issues which was a shame because a great deal of the (very good) acting was lost to poor sight-lines. Perhaps those in other seats had a better experience. Nevertheless, it was heartening to see so much young talent producing a very high standard of theatre to a deservedly sold-out audience (with people being turned away on the door).
For further information visit Mountview’s website here.