Kings Theatre, Portsmouth
Reviewed by Amy Sackman
South Downe Musical Society (SDMS) this week celebrate their spectacular Diamond Jubilee with a compilation featuring sixty years of the SDMS Musicals at the Kings Theatre. Amy Sackman headed along to their opening night.
The first act of Diamond Show Stoppers, compered by Alan Jenkins, gave a selection of South Downe Musical society’s early shows from the 50's, 60's and early 70's. The show began with a '42nd Street' dance sequence, followed by the beautifully sung 'As Long as he Needs Me' from 'Oliver!' courtesy of Emily Rennicks, showing a tender side opposed to her typically bolshier on stage personas. Kayleigh Millen contrasted this wonderfully with a rousing rendition of 'Oom Pa Pa'.
The first large company number showcased the spectacular choral singing that South Downe Musical Society is known for - 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' begun beautifully by Marlene Hill and rose to a glittering crescendo at the end. It is during choral numbers with multiple harmony lines blended to perfection, that the company really shines and they do so on multiple occasions during Diamond Showstoppers.
Notable performances as act one continued included an energetic 'America' from 'West Side Story' with the female members of the company and a lovely 'One Hand, One Heart' - Emma Hall’s sparkling soprano a particular highlight. An impressive tap sequence in 'I Love a Piano' drew whoops from the crowd. Gethsemene also stood out as Steve Reading committed fully to the emotions in the song, hitting his notes flawlessly.
The second act visited South Downe Musical Society's successes written post 1970 and a pair of shows to come in 2018 - classic 'Carousel' and 'The Producers'.
Strong choral singing all the way through this act was a highlight; 'Façade' from 'Jekyll and Hyde' was thrilling and the 'Sweeney Todd' section, led by Jane Pegler and Danny Owen, was deliciously dark. A brief sojourn back into the world of 'Legally Blonde' featured talented Lauren Kempton as the incomparable Elle Woods. The pace of act two was good, with shorter pauses between songs and smoother transitions than the preceding act. Impressive lighting throughout really added to the overall professionalism of the show.
Diamond Showstoppers is running until Saturday 11th November, including a Saturday matinée, at The Kings Theatre, Portsmouth.