Review: Spotlights:Expressing Yourself

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, vibrant, and spectacular: ‘Expressing Yourself’ is not a show to be missed! 

Following their third consecutive sell-out summer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Exeter University’s musical theatre show choir, Spotlights, is back with their exceptional show ‘Expressing Yourself’. This talented group of musical theatre lovers took to the stage to perform a brand-new set list, with high-energy choreography seamlessly blended with rich harmonies. With musical hits ranging all ages and genres, from Broadway classics, such as Wicked, to new fan favourites Hamilton and Kinky Boots, and even including Disney tunes from Tangled. Whether you are a theatre fanatic or just partial to occasionally belting in the shower, there is certainly a number to suit every audience member’s tastes. This joyous show is a true celebration of inclusivity, diversity, and being the version of yourself that you want to be. The production was received with consistent cheers and applause – it truly is not one to be missed!

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One of my favourite performances had to be the highly energetic and entertaining opening number ‘And They Don’t Even Know It’, from the new coming-of-age musical, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The immensely talented soloist George Taylor took to the stage, playing student Jamie, revealing to the audience his dreams of becoming a drag queen. I thoroughly enjoyed this feel good and empowering crowd pleaser and the choir’s lively choreography and confident vocals. This up-beat number was contrasted with the opening of Act 2: the stand-out, sultry ‘Say No To This’ from Hamilton. Harry Milne and Bee Taylor wowed the audience with their impressive vocal abilities and were accompanied by members of the choir performing tango-inspired choreography.

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Additionally, the choir performed numbers from more recent (and slightly less well known) musicals, such as the new up-and-coming pop musical SIX and the musical adaptation of Groundhog Day. Louise Pope’s stunning rendition of ‘I Don’t Need Your Love’ was so powerful and her vocals were so impressive, it left me dying to see SIX. She was joined on stage by Aine Deane, Poppy Hall, Liv Koplick, Kelly Walton, and Bee Taylor, who provided seamlessly blended, gorgeous backing harmonies for the soloist. Another notable performance was the hauntingly beautiful, ‘I’ll Be Here’, from the lovely, albeit barely known, musical Ordinary Days, which was performed by Izzy Wicks. The tragic story told in this number, combined with Izzy’s convincing acting and beautiful vocals, left audience members wiping away tears.

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However, the show really shone when the whole choir came together to perform as one. Performances like ‘Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere’ from Come From Away gave individual cast members their time to shine, notably Chrissy Butler, whilst also bringing the whole company together. I was truly impressed by the beautiful harmonies and camaraderie on stage – you can tell that this group is like a family! The phenomenal closing number ‘Expressing Yourself’ from Billy Elliot was astonishing to watch. This impressive number with its intricate, energetic choreography left the audience uncontrollably clapping along. This number truly embodied the sentiment of inclusivity and loving who you are.

I must commend the creative team, especially Artistic Director, Alice Donnelly and Musical Director, Gina Rees, who put together this astonishing, streamline production. The talented choir, along with the amazing ten-piece band, technical and lighting crew, and the directorial team pulled off an admirable spectacle of which they should all be proud.

Miriam Higgs

 ‘Spotlights: Expressing Yourself’ is showing for two more nights at the Lemon Grove, Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th November, 8:00pm. 

Photo Credits: Exeter University Spotlights

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