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Masters of Show Choir 2018 - Arts Theatre

​A complimentary ticket does not necessarily result in a complimentary review, and there were certain members of the audience at Angus Wyatt’s ‘Masters of Show Choir’ event in 2016 that took great exception that I wasn’t effusive with five-star praise (I plumped for three stars in the end). The choirs had put in considerable time and effort into their rehearsals and performances, and some felt I hadn’t acknowledged that properly. It also appears, at least in their minds, that my knowledge of chart music ought to have been nothing short of encyclopaedic before I had even graced (or indeed darkened) the Masters of Show Choir with my presence. My longstanding belief that the proverbial man (or woman or non-binary person) on the Clapham omnibus should be able to walk into a production and appreciate the general gist of it wasn’t enough, apparently. In addition, I ought to have been psychic enough to anticipate what was coming. How dare I be pleasantly surprised by certain performances!

I did, however, receive positive – or at least affirmative – feedback, which in the end outweighed the narcissistic comments (including one that made some personal insults just because I’d managed to confuse the Swansea University Show Choir with the Swansea University Choral Society). Others in the audience seemed to agree with my sentiments, even when I disagreed with a judging decision for one of the three awards on offer. But the fact remains that I wasn’t invited back for 2017, and I whipped out the debit card to nab one of the last remaining tickets for 2018, mostly because I found myself having an upcoming evening free, which is such a rarity these days that I am rather uncomfortable with even the thought of having one. You’d have thought I’d relish the opportunity for downtime, especially as, like everyone else, I’m not getting any younger, but no: I suppose one gets so used to going out that staying in is just plain weird.

It was with some consternation that I discovered this was to be ‘the last ever’; I had assumed when the Arts Theatre website said it would be the last one at their venue, the event would be moving on next year to larger premises, having outgrown the 350 seater playhouse, selling out well in advance. But it transpires this was the last one, for reasons unexplained to the 2018 attendees – it’s not like I’m in the know but have been asked not to say anything. It’s simply that I don’t know the rationale for stopping something that, regardless of my ‘theatre critic’ evaluation of it a couple of years ago, has gone from strength to strength. I can only say it is better for Wyatt to quit whilst he is ahead – to go while he is being urged to stay, rather than the opposite.

Perhaps – and this is not a sentiment I express lightly – he will regret his decision and bring it back at some point after all. (West End Eurovision is a case in point – returning to London in 2018 after a four-year hiatus.) There were ten participating show choirs this year, eight from England and two from Wales. The Js went for the Ss: judges Jacqui Boatswain, Jamie Lambert and Joey Parsad, awarded the runner-up prize to Swansea University Show Choir Society (yes, I looked that up), and the final Masters of Show Choir award to the University of Sussex Show Choir. An additional award, recognising outstanding individual achievement, went to a soloist from Newcastle, who put in a highly engaging rendering of ‘Shadowland’ from The Lion King. There were no outstanding achievements from what I could see, in the sense of there not being anyone who really stood head and shoulders above the rest (a good thing – choirs should function as choirs, not as solo superstars carrying everyone else), so I accept the judges’ decision without further comment.

An observation given to Warwick Glee was one I didn’t notice during their performance, namely that some of their faces looked, and I quote, ‘dead’: they were, let’s be fair, singing Abba’s ‘Chiquitita’ at one point. The stipulation for an ‘a cappella’ number meant there were too many ‘da-da-da’ and ‘do-do-do’ moments during the evening’s proceedings than would have been ideal. A pity that nobody went for ‘There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)’ – I’d have loved to have seen a show choir going, ‘NA-DA-HEE-DEE-HOO-DOW-HOO-DOW! DAH-DOW! DAH-DOW!’

There’s no doubting the breadth of the performances, with songs from acts as diverse as Bon Jovi to Charlie Puth, Green Day to John Legend, Amy Winehouse to the motion picture The Greatest Showman. Masters of Show Choir certainly went out with a bang: I wish Angus Wyatt all the very best for the future.

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