Midlands / Archive
THE GUIDE TO BEING SINGLE: Book, Kaitlin Gilgenbach, Music and Lyrics, Alex Kovin
Starbuck Theatre at Norbury Theatre, till 20 Feb
Runs: 2h 20m, one interval
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 20 Feb 2016
A real-good, feel-good evening.
You can still be surprised in this game. On a damp Saturday evening I made the journey from Birmingham to the nearby town of Droitwich to see a small West Midlands Musical Theatre touring company perform THE GUIDE TO BEING SINGLE. The West Midlands is not big on fringe venues (shame) and Starbuck Theatre hired the Droitwich Norbury Theatre, home to a local amateur theatre company. Both venue (friendly and very nicely appointed) and show turned out to be a great delight.
Starbuck Theatre, comprising on this occasion, 7 young performers, demonstrate high levels of acting and singing talent.
THE GUIDE TO BEING SINGLE, of which this is the UK premiere, tells the story of Jackie, PR person for a local Chicago baseball company; young and single she anonymously pens a guide – a set of rules – on how to live a fullfilled life single. She meets Derek, new member of the baseball team, who lives by the rules. They meet, the rules get in the way, they part . . . But love finds a way through at the end.
This is an ensemble show. There are good solo numbers, but many of the best moments are when groups of characters sing together. As musical lines weave in and out, drop out and back in again, the company all show great skill in their pick-ups, all lines are heard, so the over-all effect is multi-layered and a satisfying whole. And, joy oh joy oh joy, their diction is perfect, not a word is missed. Important, because Alexi Kovin’s lyrics are natural and highly witty.
As the ‘singles’ Sarah Pavlovs and Robert Dearn lead the strong company, with strong singing and engaging characters. Dearn has a fine ballad towards the end of the second half, which the show could well do with making more of. And the whole thing, replete with the smell of fresh popcorn, is rounded off with a striking final number.
Sarah Pavlovs directs with skill and precision and the action takes place in a clever set by Dean Bayliss who has incorporated some nifty use of screens.
I’d say this is a little gem from Droitwich.
Zack: Jack Scott-Walker
Heather: Louise Beadle
Derek: Robert Dearn
Jackie: Sarah Pavlovs
Eliza: Sophie Watson
Stacy: Holly Russell
Dude: Edd Pope
Director and Choreographer: Sarah Pavlovs
Assistant Director: Dean Bayliss
Design: Dean Bayliss