February 2017
West End Showstoppers

Music theatre KATS: West End Showstoppers, at Kennet School, Thatcham, from Thursday, February 16, to Saturday, February 18

That’s entertainment - West End comes to West Berkshire in glittering night of song and dance

The one thing you can expect from a KATS performance is the highest production values in every respect and their latest format was no exception, with fabulous lighting and costumes and a really well rehearsed show.

The opening, The Circle of Life (The Lion King) was beautiful to look at and delightfully sung. We were then treated to a succession of solos, duets, sketches and big chorus numbers, in many different and ambitious styles.

I applaud director John Hicks for choosing material that, on the whole, avoided the clichéd format that this type of ‘songs from the shows’ production often includes. However, I did feel that too many of the numbers, while all excellently performed, were not well-known crowd-pleasers.

Exceptions to this were the brilliant The Cat and the Moon (The Lord of the Rings – (The Musical); A Musical – Something Rotten!: How I Got the Calling (Sister Act) and Telly (Matilda), which all had instant audience appeal despite not being so well-known.

Other memorable moments were the mesmerically-staged Cup Song (Pitch Perfect), The Rocky Horror sequence including The Time Warp and the stunning We Will Rock You mash-up finale – which was amazing and sent the audience home on a real high.

It is always difficult to integrate sketches in this type of show and their success was variable. John Hicks had penned a couple, and The Thirty Nine Steps was well-devised, amusing and the final glitzy finish a delight.

Claire Bowden’s superb choreography throughout gave an outstanding polish to the show and the chorus gave of their very best, with some dazzling set pieces – a group of accomplished dancers often enhancing the action. The simple but effective ramped setting was attractive and Carl Dibble’s lighting was stunning – I loved the multi-coloured twinkling star cloth.

All praise to everyone for a breath-taking amount of costume/hairstyle changes into a myriad of different styles. None of this hampered the slickness of an excellent entertainment, stylishly brought together by John Hicks.

TREVOR DOBSON

Newbury Weekly News – Thursday, February 23, 2017