Thursday, August 04, 2011

"Prom Night of the Living Dead" - August 2011

When the Scottish Youth Theatre selected Brad Fraser's musical "Prom Night of the Living Dead" as their main Summer Festival show, comparisons with Rocky Horror and Buffy were inevitable. Despite a cracking start with an ensemble number that sees the cast filling the Tron's aisles, it soon becomes clear that musically - and particularly lyrically - this isn't the strongest source material to work with. The humour in Fraser's dialogue is rarely as sharp as the Werewolf's claws; the lyrics are overly repetitive (and sometimes just awful); while parts of Ross Brown's new score for the SYT make little impression. It's very much to the credit of the cast that this turned out to be an enjoyable evening.

There’s clearly a variety of experience and ability on stage – some of the cast are here as a confidence builder; others for fun; and a few have serious theatrical ambitions. The beauty of SYT shows is that everyone seems comfortable in their roles - there are no ‘startled rabbits’ and no I-should-have-got-a-bigger-part grabs for the limelight. So it's fitting that the show is at its best in its big numbers – the opening/closing “Come on Fate” (that's what we're calling it anyway) and the title number are both brilliantly choreographed and performed, giving glimpses of what the show might have been.

The main parts are all well performed with Kyrah Harder and Lauren Kate Robertson as our plucky heroines Fern & Dawn, Martin Quinn and Andrew Still as Lon / ‘Werewolf Lon’ making the most of some painfully written duets. As is often the case, the villain of the show gets the best moments – and Katie Barnett knows exactly what to do with them. Producing a gloriously over-the-top performance (without ever being in danger of taking it too far) she wouldn’t look out of place on any professional stage. Add in her pop-friendly vocals and it's clear Barnett is a name for the future.

Mary McCluskey's direction moves things on at pace - impressive when working with a cast of over 40 - although the finale is a little frantic and left us slightly confused. I got grief at the interval for the fact that it took the second 'transformation' scene before I realised that Lon & the Werewolf were played by separate actors, but it just shows how well executed it was (and overhearing conversations leaving the theatre I know others didn't realise until the curtain call).

Please note that in keeping with our long standing policy, we treat all youth/student/amateur theatre in the same manner as professional productions - to do otherwise would be patronising to all involved.

Prom Night of the Living Dead runs at the Tron until Saturday 6th August.