Theatre preview: The Choir
Rescuing the musical from the jukebox
Musical theatre – a once popular and intelligent genre that includes West Side Story and Cabaret – has fallen foul of commercial insecurity: in place of new musicals, librettos are either cobbled together from some band’s hits (We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia) or adapted from successful franchises (Shrek The Musical, The Bodyguard). But The Choir brings together The Citizens’ artistic director, Dominic Hill, and the Ambassadors’ Group (owners of a chain of theatres in which the popular musicals tour) in an attempt to reinvigorate the tradition.
Hill’s distinctive style as a director – the chorus of performers, the suggestive use of scenery, instruments played live on stage – is better known for giving a new lease of life to classics such as Hamlet. Teaming up with Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue, who is writing the songs, The Citizens’ production promises entertainment with more depth than a touring version of Elvis’ back-catalogue.
The story concerns a reluctant community choir, and its personalities in conflict and harmony: shades of Cora Bissett’s successful and passionate Glasgow Girls in its social realism, and a hint of patronising TV choir-master Gareth Malone through its use of song as a metaphor for social cohesion. Hopefully, Ross will pen a memorable show-stopper for Hill's doubtlessly immaculate and imaginative staging.
The Choir runs Sat 24 Oct–Sat 14 Nov at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.