Brighton Fringe 2010
Here Comes the Bride
Beside the Sea Productions
Venue: St. Andrew’s Church, Hove
Festival: Brighton Fringe
Here comes the bride, and the audience of this delightful musical are the congregation in a heartful and highly impressive show at St Andrew’s Church
A real church is the setting for this brand new musical from Beside the Sea Productions. White Room Theatre’s Nick Bite-size Brice directs and we have a full string quartet (The Brighton String Quartet) and gospel choir is this production written by Liz Tait and devised by Sophia Wylie and Emma Edwards. A cast of about fifteen take us back a week before the wedding day (at which we, the audience, are wedding guests) of Maisie and Sean. The endearing Julian McDowell, perfectly cast,as the Reverend Julian Martin, leads the service.
Does such a production set in a church work, in this, a real church? Yes. St Andrews is no stranger to theatre performances so all ran smoothly from the start. We were guests at a wedding, and then the drama took us back in time into days and episodes leading up to the ceremony. Secrets and worries, regrets and revelations…
I recognised more than a few faces from Nick Brice’s Bite-Size short plays troupe in this production. The acting was uniformly of a high standard and all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and knowing they were in a show brimming with energy and talent. It has the feel of a community production but it has all the values and standards of top professionalism.
Nick Brice directs in a way that clearly lets the talents of all of these performers shine in their own individual ways, whilst bringing it all together in an ensemble that works together with a marvellous fluency throughout.
The use of a singing narrator works a treat and keeps the tale on track in this musical story of hopes, dreams and tainted love, whose musical score comprises renditions of apt and mostly well chosen songs of love from the last century and a bit of this one. The narrator sing-tells the story through a skilled reworking of the Wedding March.
This is a production whose fine singers deserve to be singing an original musical score. Some of the occasions for famous songs are a bit forced into the dialogue and sometimes this gives the musical more of a revue feel than a full blown musical comedy. When the chosen songs are perfectly woven into the story the show becomes electric, for example with "Lucky" and "Can’t help loving that man of mine". It’s beautifully realised music, tender and sung to perfection.
Indeed, there are many tender moments where the show is genuinely moving, for example in the scene between the bride and her mother.
"Tunnel of Love" was very well done, moving us from revue feel with use of the whole space creating a strongly affecting dramatic mood. This should be the benchmark for all of the songs. Reach that level and this show will rise up even higher on musical wings. As it stands this is a warm hearted, thoroughly enjoyable, superbly sung musical. Even with these comments, this is an outstanding production which has scope to develop even further.
Towards the end we arrive at the wedding itself. We’re the congregation; we stand at the right moments, we witness a wedding. There’s so much to enjoy in this delightful production. The singing never falls below good, with many of the cast truly stellar. Here we have a potent mix of comedy and touching drama, a bit of choreography and even a rapping grandma.
There was a standing ovation. It was well deserved. This is a show you shouldn’t miss, it deserves to go further. A stonkingly wonderful affirmation of love. Hurry and get yourself on this wedding guest list; it is bound to be a sell-out. .