“A truly magical evening that left the entire audience filled with joy...”
TDTC’s Duzney Showcase was a truly magical evening that left the entire audience filled with joy. The entire team worked together seamlessly to transport us to the world of Disney, with special commendation going to to the director Lengana Mashaphu. The showcase had the perfect cast, filled with a lovely mix of familiar and fresh faces, while Mashaphu’s dynamic blocking made sure each number fully exploited the Mark Hillery stage, keeping the audience engaged throughout. Hannah Kisiala’s wonderful choreography was perfectly pitched for the evening, creating a delightful spectacle and making great use of the space whilst never being so difficult as to get in the way of the performers’ singing. The band, led by Toby Harris, did an amazing job immersing the audience in the world of Disney. The entire tech team, led by Dylan Bunyan, also deserve major credit for creating such a magical atmosphere. Bunyan’s lighting was engaging and eye catching whilst never distracting from what was on stage.
Throughout the showcase we were treated to gorgeous solo numbers. Alex Tyler’s beautiful voice suited “Journey to the Past” perfectly and she expertly navigated a tough song by starting small and building to an awesome ending. Charlotte Dixon showcased her superb range, giving us a stunningly emotional rendition of “God Help the Outcasts” before donning her newsies attire for a charismatic and upbeat number. The difference between these two numbers made it hard to believe they were done by the same performer – a testament to Dixon’s great acting. “Part of Your World” wonderfully showcased Phoebe Morris’ superb singing voice as she handled powerful belts and soft tender moments with ease. Saachi Bajaj brought the audience some trademark Disney magic with “Beauty and the Beast”; her impressive voice combined with her wonderful energy on stage was a joy to watch.
The creative team were careful not to overload us with solos though and also included several duets and group numbers. Phoebe Morris and Flo Lunnon worked perfectly together in “For the First Time in Forever” making the number an undeniable crowd pleaser. Lunnon also shone as Mary Poppins; with unmatched stage presence and incredible vocals, she commanded the audience’s attention whenever she was onstage and beautifully inhabited every character she played. Will Drake and Tomos Wyn’s voices blended beautifully together. Tomos was magnificent as Quazimodo, his stunning singing voice, emotive acting and incredible long sustained notes making it hard to believe I was watching a student production. Will Drake showcased his impressive vocal ability with deep low notes and soaring belts – all sounding effortless and beautiful. His performances as Ryan in both High School Musical numbers were also definite crowd pleasers. The most characterful performance of the night came from Oscar Scott as Bert in “Chim Chim Cheree.” Scott’s masterful physicality and facial expressions combined with his cockney accent instantly established his cheeky chimneysweep persona and immediately got the audience on side. Most impressively, he managed all of this while sounding vocally faultless.
For me there were two standout numbers. My favourite solo of the night came from Zara Dewing singing “In My Dreams”. Dewing’s wonderful singing voice was a joy to listen to. She used the full space of Mark Hillery and engaged every audience member, her incredible acting creating the most heartwarming number of the evening. My other favourite number was the big finale “Stick to the Status Quo”. It encapsulated everything that was so special about the showcase with magnificent choreography and beautiful singing, but above all you could tell each performer was having the time of their life onstage and that infectious energy brought the audience to their feet by the end.
If I had one critique it would be the lack of variety with the numbers that were performed, as with a short showcase it seemed a shame to have multiple numbers from the same shows and not explore the full range of Disney repertoire. Yet, the fact that they left us wanting more is testament to just how much fun Duzney was to watch.
Overall, this showcase gave the audience powerhouse performances and was simply a joy to watch – the perfect end to an impressive year of Tone Deaf Theatre Company productions.
By Olly Stanton
Photo Credits: Tone Deaf Theatre Company