Review number 3, and then I’m nearly free! Well, not really, I’ve got another 9 to go after this. Oh, the post joys of seeing so many things at the Edinburgh Fringe. If you’ve never been, one thing I urge you to do is go and watch just as many shows as you can possibly squeeze in! But, do this while making sure that you have enough time to eat and drink and stay healthy. I learned this on Day 1, and had barely eaten by this point, only having a Subway and a burger. Although both delicious and filling at the time, I really wished I’d eaten something more to fill me up properly, and a portion of chips from a greasy kebab shop makes me feel nauseous.
However, I am once again being led astray from my main task by the thought of food. The third show that I went to see, after my delicious yet very expensive burger from a stand on the Royal Mile was Witch! Witch is a brand new musical that has been premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe, courtesy of my university and its musical theatre society. Music Theatre Warwick performs many musicals and concerts throughout the year, providing so many opportunities for the students of Warwick University to satisfy all of their musical needs. Even throughout my one year of being a member, I’ve seen the society grow from strength to strength, with brand new ventures such as the ‘Fund’ and Witch! Itself showing the writing talent that the society possesses. You may just think that Music Theatre Warwick (MTW) likes to sing a few jolly songs every so often and bust out a few dance moves, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, our shows are always praised, with its members (including myself, ooh fancy) being recognised across university. It may even possess a few BNOC’s (Big Names On Campus, university lingo is strong here). MTW provides a great environment for all people of Warwick University to meet new people with a common interest and passion for musical theatre. Before I start discussing Witch in full, it was so clear that the cast camaraderie was particularly strong, with the cast closer than many casts that I saw perform during the Fringe and when whole casts were flyering on the Mile. It was clear that each cast member wanted to help each other out throughout the show in order to put on the best performance that they possibly could. This really helped to elevate the show, and it was charming (spell pun number one).
So, a little bit about this world premiere in the Fringe. Personally, I think it’s a lot harder for a brand new show to be taken up to the Fringe, as people would rather spend money on a musical that they feel comfortable with. When I went, there were still a few audience seats left, but from what I’ve been hearing, the audience numbers have been growing; the show definitely deserves it! Its four star ratings are definitely hard-earned. Their blurb describes the musical as this:
“When a witch called Leah searches for the truth behind her dark ancestry, the past comes back to haunt her. A story of betrayal and sacrifice guaranteed to shock and enthral in equal measure. In a society where paranoia and suspicion are rife, nothing and no one are as they seem. Including a contemporary soundtrack amidst a dark aesthetic. This new musical will electrify and enthrall you”.
At the start of the show, we are introduced to the character Leah White, who is looking towards the past in order to be guided to make decisions for her future. As the audience walks in, you’re greeted to Leah surrounded by candles talking to herself, and this really worked in order to set the sombre tone for the piece. Leah was brought to life by one of my good friends Lucy Cooper, and she definitely did not shy away from this challenging role! Her vocals were stellar, and the strong relationship with Callum clearly set the time differences of the present relationship alongside the Miller-esque witchcraft behaviour. Throughout the show, it is clear that elements of ‘The Crucible’ were used in order to shape Witch! and I think this worked in its favour. With two of the characters being called Abigail and ‘Good’ respectively, it demonstrated just how potent Miller’s work is in entrancing an audience into a mysterious, witchy world. It would have been silly for the show to dismiss the Crucible’s legacy, and Witch did touch upon the Crucible, but did not rely on it in order to convey its story – showing that MTW is not an amateur society who steal ideas, we are creative people!
Witch was brought together in such a short time, that I know at some points, the whole project was held in slight trepidation. However, I could not be prouder of my friends whom have all worked together to create such a wonderful show that should be selling-out! If you need to be sold by just one aspect of the show, than let that be the music. The music and lyrics, cleverly created by two of my good friends Chris Poon and Tom Slade were mindblowing. It’s hard to believe that two people in my year are so talented in this way. Watch out Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Warwick University has got its own version and they are definitely ready to take the scene! It’s hard to write about specific songs as I don’t know the titles of the songs. However, I really enjoyed the tight harmonies that were prevalent throughout the entire performance. They were the right level of haunting in order to keep the audience enthralled, whilst making sure that the audience were not alienated and scared off. The whole score also gave each cast member an opportunity to display their vocal prowess on their own; just another way to heighten the strong cast camaraderie. This was also shown through the third song of the musical where they sing about a milkmaid and other people. The folk style was just perfect, and could easily have fit into a West End musical! On the whole, the songs and movements were so strong, perfectly capturing the atmosphere that the directorial team had in mind.
At some points, it was slightly confusing to follow exactly what was happening, particularly with the revelation of Leah and Callum’s relationship at the end. But if anything, that’s probably down to me being horrifically tired after effectively being awake for nearly 40 hours (as I said before, travelling by coach is not a dream situation to try and get a decent night’s sleep). But, I can’t stress enough just how proud I am of many of my best friends that I have made during my first year of University, and I know that Witch is able to draw in a great audience for the rest of its run. It has an excellent score, a great script that really allows Leah to be guided by her past. The use of magnificent props really elevate the meaning of the story, carrying the notion of witchcraft into the present day. The discussion of dark forces really translate into modern day situation. Overall, the musical is atmospheric and a journey that should not be missed. If I was to review the show, I’d give it the random crystal ball emoji that the iPhone has that nobody found a use for. Until now. The show was on the right side of spooky, and really looked into the past as a way to guide present and future decisions.
If you want to check out the musical for the rest of its run, buy your tickets here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/witch
Now, it’s hard to pick a song to sum up this blogpost and indeed end it. But, I’ve gone with ‘I Put A Spell on You’ due to its obvious connotations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TrSMaOZm3Y