Musical theatre, we are told, is all about the triple threat: the actor, dancer and singer. Yet, each year at the Fringe, One Academy Productions bring a very different kind of triple threat to the festival, as they present a triple bill musical extravaganza starring musical theatre students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. And this year is no exception, as One Academy attempt another hat trick of musicals, presenting the Sondheim classic Company alongside brand new musicals Active Virgin and Towards the Moon, both of which have their world premier here at C venues.
With the writer of Active Virgin already acclaimed for creating last year’s hit Wasted Love, it is Towards the Moon, penned by Andrew McGregor, that is really the fresh-faced new kid on the block for 2012. Here, Bobby, a frustrated and forever dreamy writer, is fed up with the monotony of day to day life, angered with the lack of inspiration that leap out from the streets of Greenock. But when Bobby is hit by a car and left in a serious coma, a guardian angel shows him his path – a route that, whilst maybe leading to success, is not necessarily the road to happiness. A tale of angst-filled creativity and lost and found friendships, Towards the Moon is above all a musical of hope that tracks the dilemmas and struggles of anyone who has ever dreamed.
Very slickly directed and closely attentive to detail, Towards the Moon has a great professionalism that would put many fully-trained companies to shame. Yet, unfortunately, in most other aspects, I felt this was a show that was rather forgettable. The songs, whilst beautifully sung, didn’t make me excited and seemed so very remote from the more intricate and interesting dynamics of One Academy’s sister show Company. I also found the whole premise of the show a little naïve and hackneyed, the guardian angels idea having been now battered to death in the musical theatre world.
Although lacking novelty, this isn’t to say that Towards the Moon is not an enjoyable experience. With an easy-going mood that is approachable and family-friendly, Towards the Moon is a bit like a musical theatre version of a homogenous beach chick-lit book: you’ve seen it all before and know what’s going to happen but it is nonetheless heart-warming light entertainment to ease you into the afternoon.
**- 2/5 stars
Towards the Moon is at C main until 26 August at 12pm on even dates only and excluding the 20th. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.