On Thursday 21st April 2016 Queen Elizabeth II will have her 90th birthday. In celebration of this event York Musical Theatre Company presented Happy & Glorious as a tribute to the longest-reigning British monarch. This semi-staged ensemble production took a wide selection of songs from the musicals of the last ninety years and cleverly created a fun and varied show.

Going chronologically through the decades, the musical numbers were engagingly linked by Musical Director Paul Laidlaw and company member Richard Bainbridge. Their summary of the Queen’s life was succinct and interesting and their relationship on stage was friendly and relaxed. Most musical numbers were accompanied by an image from the corresponding musical, which was a simple but effective touch and cemented the songs in their decade well.

The musical numbers were all performed confidently by the cast and comprised a good mixture of choral part singing, ballads, duets, solos and small group ensembles that kept the audience entertained throughout. The comic songs were particularly appreciated and maybe having one or two more of them would have enhanced the otherwise well-chosen programme even further.

Particular moments that stood out in this well-crafted production included familiar favourites such as ‘Spread a Little Happiness’ from Mr Cinders, ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, from South Pacific, and ‘What is This Feeling’ from Wicked, as well as lesser known songs including the highly amusing ‘The Physician’ from Nymph Errant and the rousing ‘Into The Fire’ from Scarlett Pimpernel. The comic highlight of the evening was the enthusiastic and humorous performance of ‘You’re Timeless To Me’ from Hairspray.

Each song was simply directed and/or choreographed in a sensitive way that suited the atmosphere of the piece perfectly and never weakened the vocal performances. Ably complementing the adult company was the company’s youth group. Their renditions of songs from Oliver! and Whistle Down the Wind were enthusiastic and charming, with some lovely solo performances and fun choreography.

A special mention must go to Paul Laidlaw who not only devised, directed and co-compered the production but was the musical director, accompanied the singers with his sensitive piano playing and wrote many of the choral arrangements, which were always enchanting and were delivered by an accomplished ensemble.

Overall this was a well thought through and slick production that not only celebrated the life of Queen Elizabeth II but the life of the musical.

Reviewed: 15th April 2016

Reviewed: Elizabeth Vile