Review: Musical Comedy Awards, Bloomsbury Theatre

Review: Musical Comedy Awards, Bloomsbury Theatre

History was made at the WeGotTickets Musical Comedy Awards final this year. For the first time there were more women than men competing for the prestigious trophy at the Bloomsbury Theatre. A significant moment on a night when there was plenty of talent on display from all genders.

First up was Amelia Hamilton. For a while I wondered if I was watching the right show (for full transparency I was watching on the Nextup live stream. Fans can watch it there on the service's catch-up later this week). Hamilton seemed to be doing a stand-up set rather than a musical set until she broke into her secret weapon – some pretty decent rapping. The highlight was a fast-paced catalogue of the things her protective mother worries about her doing, most of which will result in the house burning down. It didn't immediately set the audience alight but it did get them joining in with the chorus and got the evening off to a rousing start.

Glaswegian Eddy MacKenzie is going to have to learn to live with the Jack Black comparisons unless he cuts his hair and grows a few inches. He is short and stocky but has a good way with a song as he strums his little guitar (the first little guitar of the night, making this a distinctly unphallocentric Musical Comedy Awards final). Mental health issues has become such a trope in comedy comedians are now making jokes about not having issues - MacKenzie's stand-out song was about how maybe he was not sad enough to be funny. Which was only half true. He might not be sad, but he was certainly funny enough to justify his place in the final.

Katie Norris (pictured) strutted on and clearly had both confidence and stage presence. Partly because of her statuesque size (which teed up one of her opening zingers) but also because she was one of the more experienced finalists, being half of established double act Norris and Parker. Perhaps it was not surprising then that her commanding performance, complete with Kate Bush-style vocals, an ode to a French techno DJ and a recorder solo, won her the first prize. She certainly deserved the win, though for me (not judging this year) it was a pretty close call because the standard overall was so consistently high.

Tasmin Sarkany's violin lessons have clearly paid off. I assume she is an accomplished 'proper' musician, but here she used those skills to deliver a witty spoof musical lecture which was heavy on instrumental wordplay. If some of her puns were a little obvious such as her twists on the word 'pitch', others went down interesting avenues. Where other acts were more stand-up with music added on, Sarkany very much captured the spirit of musical comedy, combining violin and wit to great effect. And at one point actually combining violin, kazoo and wit to great effect, which is not something you see every day.

Su Mi charged onto the stage wearing a shark mask and quickly made an impact, largely by shouting. It did win the audience over though as she set out to subvert Asian stereotypes such as looking younger than your age with a bolshy, brassy and noisy performance. She was certainly different on this night and has a personality that stands out in a good way onstage. I wouldn't like to be her next door neighbour but she would work well in a comedy club.

Review continues here


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