SPREAD A LITTLE JOY
Vivid Theatre Productions at Brentwood Theatre
Ian Southgate pans for musical theatre gold in this fund-raiser for Brentwood Theatre, directed by Emma Jane Sweeney. Broadway and off, West End and fringe yield a fascinating haul: many of the numbers on offer will be fresh even to aficionados. Excellent singing throughout, and not a microphone to be seen.
The theme is happiness, symbolized by colourful balloons. Andrew Lippa's title song, which opens the first set, comes from the jinxed Betty Boop; it neatly leads into Pulled from The Addams Family, beautifully interpreted by Katie-Elizabeth Allgood. If I Didn't Have You – an odd couple/sunshine boys number from Monsters Inc – is impeccably done in relaxed style by Ben Martins and Bob Southgate.
Summertime has a bedtime story background, before the kids kick off the quilts to give us Naughty from Matilda.
Schadenfreude [bursting other people's balloons] from Avenue Q, then a revivalist conga from Bat Boy to end the first half.
Highlights of the second hour include Kerry Cooke's Good Times from The Little Mermaid, There, from the musical revue Closer Than Ever, with Emily Funnell giving the couple The Secret of Happiness from Daddy Long Legs. And a lovely a capella octet from Once.
It's amazing how much of this has something to say even out of its dramatic context. But the Juke Box Musicals have all the best tunes these days, and, as a spoonful of sugar to those who are waiting for something they recognize, two numbers from Carole King's Beautiful. Then, with trumpet obbligato from Becca Tofts, the joy balloons spread out into the audience and toes tap along to a couple of Disney hits.