“This proved itself to be one of the most enjoyable nights in the DST calendar”

Camp. Fun. Excellence.

Hild Bede Theatre completely excels itself with its 2023 Miscast line-up. From beginning to end, the audience was treated to an array of Durham’s best vocalists and performers in ways they haven’t been seen before. At the heart of this performance is the joy radiating from each performer. It was clear that everyone on stage was having a wonderful time, and as a result of this, the energy was simply infectious. The show was one that didn’t take itself too seriously, yet, judging by the talent on display, it should be treated so. It goes without saying that this cast is absolutely phenomenal; from beginning to end the strengths of these incredibly talented individuals became more and more evident. In fact, credit must be given to the directorial team of Emily Philips and Cesca Horgan, assisted by Emilia Lewis, as the defined character choices and overall range of the showcase was one of the key attributes to the show’s success. This trio took on the roles of hosts for the evening, and helped walk the audience through the set list with humour and charm, tying together the mismatch of styles and genres into one cohesive showcase.

Delving into the individual performances, it is impossible to pick out a highlight. Each piece was equally as enjoyable as the next, and the sheer range of these incredibly versatile performers is impossible to ignore. From the camp and flamboyant Jacob Vellucci’s Sharpay, to the commanding and vocally perfect villain portrayed by Issey Dodd, the soloists were varied and extremely strong. Tomos Wyn’s performance of “He’s My Boy” was captivating and emotive in equal measure, and was a perfect example of how the solos really displayed each individual’s strengths, whilst upholding the miscast brief. This was carried forward to the duets, featuring hits like Suddenly Seymour, Gaston, and Sincerely Me. Within these smaller groups, each performer shone in their own right. Eleanor Sumner’s Gaston was fantastic, and Isabel Askew and Samuel Kingsley Jones’ Seymour and Audrey went down a storm. The energy upheld throughout was excellent, and really helped each performer shine.

However, where this showcase really came into its own was in the large ensemble numbers. Within all these group numbers, credit must be given to Musical Director and accompanist on the night, Dan Hicks. Harmonies were crystal clear and really elevated the show. The opening number of ‘Hello’ from Book of Mormon set the tone for the showcase, and was only the beginning of the hilarious and brilliant group pieces. When initially reading the setlist, ‘Those Canaan Days’ felt a bizarre choice, yet I was proven so very wrong. This piece was intense yet utterly brilliant, and Xanthe Gibson led the all female ensemble with such charm and presence that it became a surprise standout for me.

Additionally, it would be completely amiss to not mention the stellar Cell Block Tango. This was, simply put, absolutely huge. Each performer not only shone, but worked together well to be the sexy murderess’s they were clearly destined to be. It was entertaining, fun, and so impressive. This was an example of where the choreo really shone, and it would perhaps be worthwhile to incorporate this elsewhere in the showcase.

Overall, every performance deserves a standout mention in its own right. The excellent casting choices and delivery helped to bring to light just how talented members of our DST community really are, and everyone involved in the 2023 Miscast team should be incredibly proud of themselves. This proved itself to be one of the most enjoyable nights in the DST calendar, and I highly recommend getting involved with the fun next year!

By Milly Wicks

Photo Credits: Hild Bede Theatre