Alexander S Bermanger can undoubtedly pen a winning melody. I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical, is full of them, delivered with wit and charm, a sly little wink to the classics of the genre and some soaring notes, delivered with ease by its four strikingly talented performers. This cabaret, thematically linked together, provides an engaging look at what it means to be a musical theatre performer working in the industry, from gaining that first big break to playing opposite a demanding diva or finding that the enthusiastic audience member has now turned full-on stalker. For those who have ever worked in the industry, it feels all too familiar, for anyone who hasn’t, these stories will humanise those ensemble hoofers who go out and give it their all eight times a week.
Bermanger’s original compositions deliberately echo countless musicals. It’s opening number deliberately hits motif after motif from shows as varied as Les Mis to Wicked, Sweeney Todd to Blood Brothers, with a little bit of Oklahoma and Book Of Mormon to boot. It’s a show that you feel will relate to the anorak musical theatre fan with Easter Eggs aplenty. I challenge anyone to identify all the shows on a first listen.
Each of the four-strong cast each gets a moment in the spotlight. Recent Javert cover James Hume delivers an exquisite version of a show must go on number, valiantly letting us know he is fighting the flu while Andy Moss breaks your heart a little with a song all about being a permanent stand by. Charlotte Anne Steene is terrifying as the actor who eventually lands her break and becomes a fully fleshed monster diva while Charlotte O’Rourke brings the house down with the best number of the night, pinging her way around multiple styles and techniques and exquisitely singing ‘badly’ in the rather brilliant ‘I Love To Sing.’
It’s hour-long slot- condensed since its London run last year- feels just about right, leaving you wanting more without ever feeling short-changed. There are original scores aplenty at this year’s Fringe, but there is unlikely to be as many crowd-pleasers as Bermanger’s pastiche like winners.