This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews. The original post is available here.
For one week only, in the intimacy of the Chandler Studio Theatre within the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the future faces of musical theatre are treating audiences to their wonderful performances of Betty Blue Eyes.
A musical that is both uplifting and sorrowful, Betty Blue Eyes is based on the 1984 film A Private Function by Alan Bennett. Set in 1947, the aftermath of the war has left Northern England in tatters with rationing pushing citizens to their limit. With the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip fast approaching, a buzz of excitement fills the small town’s air as the upper classes begin to plan a feast to celebrate the wedding. Gilbert Chilvers (Lawrence Libor) is the town’s chiropodist and, as he dreams of owning a shop of his own, his wife Joyce (Lucie Thaxter) dreams of being “somebody.” However both dreams are dashed by the upper class and, in desperation, the Chilver’s find themselves in the middle of a “pignapping.” With a food demanding mother (Eve Niker) and the town’s council hot on their heels, the Chilvers have a lot to answer for as the wedding date grows nearer and nearer.
This production has been laced together with care, each fine detail contributes to the retelling of the story of 1940’s Britain; the past truly comes to life in front of the audience’s eyes from the moment the show begins, transporting them to the small Northern town with eccentric characters and songs you’ll sing all the way home.
The cast consists of the Conservatoire’s extremely strong third cohort BA Musical Theatre students who are excellent performers that are full of talent, promise and determination. Together, they are dazzling, their voices blending into one and effortlessly filling the small theatre. With each individual having their own chance to shine, it is clear that this cast are wonderful performers, all of whom I believe will go far in the future. The dance routines, choreographed by Emily-Jane Boyle, are executed with precision. Libor creates a truthful and lovable Gilbert and Thaxter portrays Joyce with great emotion and vocal power. Niker is consistently perfect as Joyce’s mother, her antics gaining plenty of laughs from the audience. It must be stressed that each member of the cast are of an exceedingly high standard with some members playing up to five characters in the show.
Anyone who missed Betty Blue Eyes during its short run on the West End should take the opportunity to catch the show at the Royal Conservatoire. Although billed as an amateur production, it possesses all of the qualities of a professional company, promising an enjoyable evening of spam, history and blue eyed pigs.