Review: When Midnight Strikes
Photo by Thomas Scurr
Simon Burr as Christopher
Elizabeth Chadwick as Jenifer
Ellie Nunn as Josephina
Victoria George as Zoe
Stephanie Lysé as Nicole
James Dangerfield as Greg
Marcia Sommerford as Rachel
Georgina Nicholas as Twyla
Marc Kelly as Bradley
Matthew Boyd as Alex
Andrew Truluck as Edward
Victoria Waddington as Muriel
It's new year's eve 1999 and Jennifer and Christopher welcome you to the party of parties.
But when everyone has something they want to change, and plenty they want to hide, the party starts to fall apart.
The clock is ticking, and when midnight strikes, what will the new year bring?
When Midnight Strikes is a fun and fresh contemporary British musical by Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds.
Full of show-stopping songs and complex characters, this deftly-plotted drama is about saying goodbye to the past and accepting change.
Following their acclaimed stagings of Birds of Paradise, The Baker's Wife and Lucky Stiff, MKEC Productions return to The Drayton Arms as they continue to bring high-quality stagings of lesser-known musicals to the London fringe.
MKEC Productions; set up in 2014 by Marc Kelly and Elizabeth Chadwick, are back at the beautiful Drayton Arms Theatre; a delightful theatre above an equally wonderful pub.
Joined by Musical Director, Oli Rew, this production is a must see for lovers of British musical theatre.
A mood of impending technological doom laced with an affecting human dilemma, single-out this musical as something more unusual and interesting than many of its typical counterparts in the genre.
It's the turn of the millennium, that fateful New Year's Eve, now almost two decades behind us, when human existence was potentially prone to the dire consequences of the millennium bug - a widespread, date-based, computer software glitch that was predicted to make planes fall out of the sky and many other catastrophic events besides.
That fateful night provides a neat idea for Kevin Hammonds' book for this musical, building on the notion of world-wide impending disaster reflected in a home-based impending disaster, combined with the idea of change that every New Year presents.
Christopher and Elizabeth are holding a NYE party in what seems like a fairly swanky apartment in NYC.
But it's not the millennium bug which is top of Elizabeth's agenda as she has discovered that her partner has been having an affair.
That is the main thread of the piece and the key issue to be resolved in the drama.
The Drayton Arms Theatre is a fairly small venue, but the stage area provides ample space to do some interesting work, and designer Victoria Francis doesn't miss the opportunity to use every scrap of it to successfully provide the feel of a stylish New York apartment, complete with a balcony and a skyline that twinkles with lights and explodes with celebratory fireworks.
There's no room, though, for a substantial orchestra, especially given that the space also has to accommodate the very sizeable cast of 12.
That number of characters is necessary, of course, to offer realism for the party setting, but it also presents a substantial challenge in terms of orchestrating the movements of a large ensemble.
Marc Kelly, though, is not a director to shrink from such matters, and his meticulous and authoritative stamp is visibly and skilfully etched into the proceedings, delivering a wholly professional and entertaining production.
He's aided and abetted in his dramatic endeavours thanks to Charles Miller's alluring and tuneful score which offers many hummable and inventively interesting melodies, and a cast that exudes confidence and bags of talent.
There are plenty of opportunities for that talent to sparkle both in the numbers where the ensemble sing collectively and where individual characters sing alone, even if some of the big crescendo notes and phrases seemed a touch on the exaggerated side given the size of the auditorium.
In an inspired move, Dominic Veall's haunting cello is set alongside piano for the musical accompaniment, subtly augmenting the drama with an undercurrent of impending gloom that also contrasts effectively with the celebratory party mood.
Unpredictably and somewhat surprisingly, there's no big number finish here - it closes almost with a plaintive whimper, though that's an entirely pertinent and appropriate conclusion to the dilemma faced by the party's hostess.
Absorbingly different and refreshingly dramatic, this musical offers both interesting characters and wholly engaging songs in an enjoyably entertaining and polished production.
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ActDrop listing for Drayton Arms Theatre
Our show listing for When Midnight Strikes
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