Belfast Operatic’s new steam punk production is a triumph

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Belfast Operatic Society are renowned for the quality of their shows, and this year company stalwart Gary Redpath decided to do something a little different for their annual Spring concert.

Gary, who produced and directed the company’s latest offering ‘The Greatest Show’ at the Mac in Belfast, created a story of love, loss, passion and ambition as a showcase for some fantastic songs from hit movies and TV shows such as Moulin Rouge, La La Land, Bohemian Rhapsody, Smash, and Evita.

Inspired by the desire to see the company perform ‘Til We Reach that Day’ from Ragtime, Gary built the story of two rising divas, Roxy and Violet, who seek to find love within the razzamatazz of showbusiness, but they are soon influenced and led astray by human nature and the seven deadly sins, distracted by fame and fortune.

Set against the backdrop of an American cabaret club the pair find themselves hitting obstacles along the way to finding their significant other, falling in and out of love, experiencing lust, envy, heartache and other trials along the way.

As the pair eventually make their way to starring roles in the club they realise they have already met their significant others much to the dismay of their club boss whose jealousy leads to an irreversible decision that changes the lovers fates.

It was a brave decision to step away from the traditional concert format many audiences are familiar with and to create a brand new story as a backdrop for songs that may be less familiar than many usually performed at a ‘songs from the shows’ concert.

However, it was a decision that certainly paid off.

The dark, seedy, steam punk vibe was a nod to Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge with a hint of The Greatest Showman thrown in for good measure.

Opening as it meant to go on, the evening appropriately started with ‘The Greatest Show’ from the hugely successful Hugh Jackman film ‘The Greatest Showman’, The captivating performance of the entire company set the scene for the rest of the show, with musical highlights including Somebody To Love from Bohemian Rhapsody, Nowadays from Chicago, Never Enough from The Greatest Showman, and Sparkling Diamonds from Moulin Rouge.

One of the real stand outs however was the piece that first sparked the inspiration for the show - ‘Till We Reach That Day - which was a real tour de force for the entire company.

As you would expect from a company with the calibre of Belfast Operatic, the solo performances throughout the show were of the highest standards, with Emma Kelly making her debut appearance with the company in the role of Violet and Alice Johnston as her counterpart Roxy.

Another new member Patrick D’Arcy took on the role of Sebastian, with Mark Leeman bringing the character of Jack to life.

The ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ who appeared throughout the show to tempt Roxy and Violet were a fantastic touch that added to the seedy ambience of the production.

Special mention must go to choreographer Kirsten Magee. Despite this being her first outing for a full scale production as choreographer for the company, Kirsten did a fantastic job puling the dance numbers together, blending modern contemporary dance with classical, lyrical movements to compliment the tone of the show perfectly.

Belfast Operatic are well known for pushing the envelope when it comes to producing new shows and this latest offering certainly bolstered that reputation.

It came as no surprise that they received standing ovations from sold out audiences during their run at the Belfast theatre.