Day & Night
Inverness Opera Company
* * *
IT was a brave idea to create a new show by linking some of musical theatre’s favourite songs with a story – and the reward is Inverness Opera Company’s Day & Night allows the spotlight to shine on the talents of their members.
High-spots come thick and fast in a show that was occasionally a little bit uneven on Wednesday - possibly just first night bedding-in.
Using the breadth of the Empire Theatre for first number Who Will Buy was a lovely touch from director Caroline Nicol, gradually drawing the audience’s attention to the stage.
The change of mood from the springlike daffodil yellows and blues of the first act’s set and costume designs to the dramatic black and red of the second, works well.
And the contrast backs up the show’s central concept that Day & Night is a venue with a double identity – coffee-shop by day (Act One), nightclub after dark (Act Two).
But at all times the place is full of the stories of a range of characters – a wedding party, a girl trying to choose between three keen suitors, a group of performers who treat us to a tap dance, three women trying to make sense of their relationships etc.
It’s only afterwards that it occurs to you that the small stories might have seemed less random if a couple of continuing tales had woven through more completely.
Unlike the regular "jukebox" musicals, usually made up of the music of one artiste or genre to tell a story (Buddy, Sunshine On Leith), Day & Night trawled the treasures of a broad range of musicals from Oliver! opener Who Will Buy, to Avenue Q, Mack & Mabel, Funny Girl, Singin’ In The Rain, The King And I, Cabaret, Barnum to an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley and selection from Queen tribute We Will Rock You.
And with a younger generation of talents on show alongside more familiar faces from down the years, it was a great idea early in the first half to have the two groups blending in a light-hearted dance off in I Got Rhythm.
Young stars to look out for in future were in plentiful supply – Amy Atkinson and Lynn Taylor, just two.
It was good to see long-time performers picked out too – Louise Munro’s comic turn as a waitress struggling to bring out the right order was one. In the second half Maureen Pringle’s well-lubricated celebration of Ladies Who Lunch was another dash of humour.
But there was a spectrum of moods to keep things interesting.
A bittersweet high spot of the first half came from Leah Smith’s emotionally-charged performance of lost-love-remembered in Hello Young Lovers from The King And I.
Her voice also shone alongside the equally powerful vocals of Helen Barron and Debbie McDonnell in one of the most successful sections of the show. The trio played three women with love dilemmas expressed through Andrew Lloyd Webber songs Love Changes Everything, Unexpected Song and I Don’t Know How To Love Him.
Possibly the most energetic moment of the night was the punchy power of the whole cast’s tribute to Queen from musical We Will Rock You.
Not having seen the musical, I don’t know if the inspired use of light (don’t want to give too much away for those going later in the week) in Bohemian Rhapsody is Inverness Opera Company’s idea. But even if it’s not, it doesn’t matter – it’s genius and adds a lot of fun. It’s also worth keeping your eye on the musicians for that song too ...
The show continues at Eden Court until Saturday.