Just a Couple of Song and Dance Men could be more accurately titled “Just a Couple of Dance and Song Men”, but it doesn’t trip off the tongue as well.
This is a show with loads of charm, fun and enthusiasm. It’s a delightful night in the theatre despite some rough edges.
Our two leading men, Shay Debney and Mikey Halcrow are obviously superb dancers and I was in awe of both their tap and soft shoe routines.
As singers, there are some shortcomings, as there were pitch issues and the feeling that they don’t always cut it as soloists. Yet whenever they were singing together, either in harmony or in unison, there were no vocal problems. Both Debney and Halcrow are young professional performers, and hopefully will develop their solo vocal skills with some more experience and expert coaching.
The show starts slowly, with some chat between the two leading men that seemed a little forced in the opening scene, but I suspect that was a case of opening night nerves, as once they got into their stride, they settled into an easy and polished performing relationship – something that isn’t always easy. Both performers are generous to each other, never taking the other’s limelight, and they are natural audience pleasers who love to entertain. They quickly form a relationship with the audience, and that’s when the show takes off.
All the famous songs from legendary song and dance men like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Donald O’Connor are in the show, fitted in skillfully by writer and producer Margaret Fisk, so the package of song, dance and story works very well, and Debney and Halcrow sell it well.
What I liked especially was the camaraderie and the feeling that these two young performers were there to entertain and inform me, and I loved hearing the stories about the song and dance men of the golden era.
Musical director Shanon Whitelock is a talent all on his own, and apart from his undoubted expertise at the keys, also contributed an appealing vocal solo as a framework for a special routine for Debney and Halcrow. Excellent musical support was also provided by the rest of the Song and Dance band, bassist Glen Davidson and drummer Conrad Tracey.
Director and choreographer Jeremy Hinman uses the stage space well, with excellent routines that showcase the excellent dance skills of his two stars.
The audience loved the show, and we all left the theatre with big smiles on our faces – and that’s the mark of a successful show, despite a few shortcomings that didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of these two charismatic young performers.
Reviewer Julie Houghton attended opening night at The Loft, Chapel Off Chapel. This show is so popular, it will tour again in 2019!