‘Movies To Musicals’ (The Alhambra Theatre) | Review By Sam Eastop

Having seen Movies to Musicals before, I knew what to expect when entering the Alhambra Theatre, which I am very familiar with, in my hometown of Dunfermline. What I didn’t expect was how much fun I was going to have. I remembered the show centred around a strong cast of kids and young people with some stars thrown in to entertain while the kids did a costume change to come on again later, but this memory was an underestimation of the quality that this production has.  

Movies to Musicals is a concert event ran by a charity called Glasgow Philharmonia founded by Ross Gunning. Their aim is to offer audiences nationwide a chance to experience a large variety of dazzling productions at unbeatable prices. With Movies to Musicals, this goal is achieved by bringing together a brilliant kids cast to perform alongside major players in the musical theatre industry on a big stage to sold-out audiences.  

John Partridge is our top-billed star. He absolutely owns every inch of the stage while performing his solo numbers (literally, even getting in amongst the band at one point and singing staring into the eyes of the pianist). His total swagger and comfort on stage is a joy to watch. He also smashes every song he sings; giving us a brilliant rendition of Thunderball and a whole section dedicated to MGM old time classics like Luck Be A Lady and Singing In The Rain, to name a few. He has fantastic chemistry with the talented youngsters who occasionally pop on stage to help him out in numbers like When I Grow Up from Matilda. It’s clear they are comfortable on stage with partridge and that he makes them feel equally important in the numbers.  

Rob Houchen also lends his vocal talents to the line-up. Houchen’s voice is simply incredible. He sings with such confidence and ease that you believe he has been singing the songs all his life. Having played Marius in the West End before he truly amazes when singing in the Les Miserables Section, even if he does sing Valjean’s iconic solo Bring Him Home. From gender-swapping No Good Deed from Wicked to serenading us in The Last Night of the World, Houchen truly delivers a brilliant performance that keeps the audience thoroughly entertained.  

Jade Davies is our third star of the show. She performs all her numbers beautifully and with such comfort that makes the audience fully give themselves over for the ride. There’s a reason Davies’ rendition of Heart Of Stone is billed right before the group finale; it’s truly a brilliant, emotional performance that gives the audience the climax they truly deserve after and excellent night of musical theatre. Having performed in Les Mis with Houchen, their chemistry on stage is a joy to watch and Davies really is a perfect addition to the star cast of Movies to Musicals.  

The kids cast in this production are simply superb. They are so bursting-at-the-seams with energy that the audience can’t help but wear a beaming smile every time they run onto the stage. The audience can tell they are so excited to be on a stage as big as they are, with stars as big as they are, but it’s obvious they belong up there with them. Every member of the kids cast did themselves proud, there are too many to name but every single one of them gave 100% in every dance move, every emotional beat and individual line they got to sing to an adoring auditorium. Their hard work, passion and dedication really paid off in the final product.  

Rebecca Curbelo Valdivia’s choreography was brilliant. The moves she gave to her energetic kids cast emphasised every ounce of talent they had on offer and gave them a chance to really be centre stage and steal the limelight. Ross Cunning’s conduction of the band was fantastic, and the show is his baby, so he really deserves a pat on the back for the whole evening.  

Overall this show was great. There were a few issues, the night got off to a shaky start; there were a few technical mishaps like spotlights not being on when they should or not being sure who to light, or microphones not being turned up fast enough, or general audio being not quite loud enough to be heard over the band at some points. None of these things ruined the experience, but they were distracting and were unfair on all the fantastic young performers when they’ve worked so hard and are finally getting to showcase that hard work to a paying audience. The general audio volume being too low is an issue I’ve noticed before when seeing Movies to musicals and is a recurring problem that should be sorted asap, but a lot of the other minor issues could have been venue specific and nothing to worry about in the big picture. The evening for the most part, however, was delightful and thoroughly entertaining, and for a charity performance, with a cast made up mostly of youngsters, it’s high praise to say this feels like an evening of professional musical theatre entertainment. When this show tours around different parts of Scotland, this is a must-see for musical theatre fans and people keen to encourage incredible young talents, who will undoubtedly be the next generation of performers.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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