Hild Bede Theatre’s ‘Miscast Showcase – In the Eye of the Hurricane’ challenges the limitations of gender, appearance, and age through various monologues and musical numbers. The concept is brilliant – perform an extract from a show you would never be cast in – and the outcome is superb. The eighteen cast members demonstrate contagious passion and inspiring confidence during their three minutes of fame.
Gender limitations are some of the most interesting ‘Miscasts’ of the production. One standout is the opening number by the talented Tomos Wyn, which is sure to give audiences goosebumps. He showcases an expert vocal range and connects to the infamous ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ refreshingly, bringing intense emotion to the traditionally female role. Confidence is a reigning factor in James Murray’s success with ‘Sandra Dee’, using hilarious actions to communicate Rizzo’s character.
Similarly, the two songs from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ are incredible, with performers Oscar Scott and Georgia Onslow doing them justice. Using space and props to their advantage, audiences are left questioning whether a miscast is actually a miscast – they seem to be made for these roles. The age ‘miscasts’ were brilliant too, with Matilda Hubble shining as a mature Matilda and Jasmine Doyle bringing a mature and stronger voice to Fun Home’s ‘Ring of Keys.’
Unfortunately, there are a serious lack of monologues, which is a shame as audiences are expecting an eclectic mix of musical numbers and play extracts. Jenifer Lafferty showcases a natural acting ability in an excerpt from ‘Lungs,’ and Rob Morrisey offers one of the best performances of the evening in his version of ‘Educating Rita.’ Rob is a genuinely astounding performer who should be seen more in the Durham Theatre scene. Yet, the highlight has to be the incredible final performance of Lauren Brewer, Alexandra Bjornstad and Zoe Buckthorp’s original number: ‘Agony…a Covid remix.’ With strong voices and funny, relatable lines, this finishes off the production brilliantly.
There are some faults with the production that should be overlooked due to the problematic nature of performance recently. Firstly, performing to a screen makes off-notes sound even worse, and there are some problems with singing on-key. Secondly, the technical elements are not outstanding and it would have been nice to have some consistency with the cast: either have them perform in front of a white background or dress in character – the mix seems unprofessional. Finally, in some instances, the words ‘boys’ were exchanged for ‘girls’ or vice versa, which slightly defeats the point of the production being ‘miscast,’ which was disappointing.
However, the production does showcase some of the major talents that Durham has to offer, and a proportion of the ticket sales will be going towards the charity ‘Acting for Others’, which supports theatre workers. More details about the work that ‘Acting for Others’ does is explained during the production’s interval. The show is already highly popular, with ticket sales being extended until today due to high demand. With not much to look forward to at the moment, this showcase is sure to lift your spirits and make you re-examine whether limitations on casting are always for the best.