I'm a massive advocate for new writing, so I was always going to lean into the positives when reviewing Spotlights, but I have to admit to having been taken aback at how well-developed the production was.
Although very clearly taking its influences from classics such as A Chorus Line and Into the Woods, and on a more contemporary level, the likes of Heathers and Mean Girls, co-written by Casey Divall and India Crittenden, Spotlights stands firmly on its pointed toes as a beautiful coming-of-age piece of musical theatre.
The entire cast was wonderful, showcasing some brilliant ensemble numbers complete with tight choreography. Leading the line was the superb Georgia Folkard as main protagonist, Paige whose trials and tribulations we follow as she traverses her way through her time at a prestigious drama school. Georgia was flanked wonderfully by fellow leads Lucy Roper, Charlie Simpson, and Lucas Fox, each of whom displayed stunning vocal ability at various points in the show.
While I could focus on the performances, which apart from the occasional sticky acting moments, were virtually flawless, I was really examining the show as a new piece of theatre. Of the musical numbers, the main highlights for me were Girl in White and Picture Perfect Me - I'm a sucker for a ballad, but these two were stunning both in terms of the arrangements and the performances from Georgia and Lucy respectively. The musical arrangements overall really impressed me, with the brass and woodwind sections giving it a classic feel, yet retaining an ultimately contemporary composition style. The songs were beautifully played by the on-stage 10-piece (if I counted correctly) orchestra. The sound levels went slightly awry in the second half, occasionally drowning out the vocals, but these are things that can be ironed out.
Speaking of ironing out, the script although excellent and very funny in places, I felt could probably do with a bit of tightening up. There was a couple of narratives along the way that were hinted at but never explored, and to me it seemed to be plucking at too many threads, leaving Paige's story to come to a more clumsy conclusion than I'd have liked.
I had to remind myself that this is still a fledgling production, and I'm sure there's more workshopping to be done yet. Whatever stage they're at though, in Spotlights they've got an enthralling production on their hands already, so I'm excited to see what the future holds for it. Well done to everyone involved.
Spotlights continues at the Maddermarket on Weds 16th Aug, before heading to the Players Theatre in Lowestoft on the 25th and 26th August. It's also playing at The Other Palace Theatre in London on the 30th August. Catch it while you can.