Showtune, also the title of Jerry Herman’s autobiography, is a revue that provides exactly what it says on the tin in terms of musical content. However, it features absolutely no context.
With an oeuvre that includes Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and Mack and Mabel, Herman’s shows feature indomitable divas, infectiously catchy tunes and plenty of moxie, conceived with the purpose of giving the audience a damn good time.
While more experienced performers could imbue the material with greater heft, it isn’t Luke Byrne’s fault that this well-meaning production feels like a flimsy summer filler. Without any dialogue, it makes no attempt to contextualise its subject’s place in musical theatre history.
The songs, most of which are truncated versions, are loosely grouped together within a vague concept hinting at a community theatre production comprising a miniature stage with red velvet curtains, dressing-room paraphernalia and screens for the many costume changes.
Among the cast of 10 eager recent graduates, the voices are of mixed quality and many struggle to be heard above Henry Brennan’s animated piano accompaniment. The group numbers display greater confidence than the solos. The standouts are the two leading women, Alex Burns and Ella-Maria Danson, who show the most authority and substantial stage presence.
The music is undoubtedly some of the best of Broadway and the presentation is pleasant enough but, apart from some tap dancing, it doesn’t provide anything that can’t be enjoyed from a Spotify playlist of the definitive versions of Herman’s greatest hits.