FRESHER the Musical
Queen Dome, Pleasance Dome
With widespread publicity and boastful reminders of its 2010 Best New Musical award, FRESHER created quite an expectation for potential audiences – but I am happy to say that this was an expectation which it lived up to. Within minutes of its opening, this hilarious and highly realistic portrayal of the start of university life had justified every award it had won and potentially began the nominations for this year’s awards. The score was incredible, the characters believable and the energy maintained throughout. Having relatively recently experienced what it is to be a FRESHER, I felt I was able to connect with the characters who were excellently portrayed by five young, promising and highly talented actors. It would be difficult to pick a stand-out performer of the show, but in terms of character believability, convincingness and all-round aptitude I would have to say that Alexis Gerred, who plays Tuc Harris wins it for me; although the vocal talents of James Darch as Basil Wood are hard to beat. Likewise, singling out specific musical numbers is a challenge, but ‘Best Years of Your Life’ is stunning both musically and vocally and provides a great close to the show.
Sally Torode has taken a great concept in creating the storyline for FRESHER, but its real genius lies in the hilarious lyrics and brilliant musical score both by Mark Aspinall. The only disappointment however was that this show is deserving of a fuller band, more vocal depth and a larger venue – the Queen Dome, three-piece band and occasionally slightly empty vocals didn’t really do the original score and overall show complete justice. Don’t get me wrong, this is an incredible show and one deserving of several awards, but there were just a few minor qualities missing in this particular performance which prevent me from giving it a full five star review.
Regardless, FRESHER is one of the best musicals I have seen in my three years of coming to the Fringe and I fully intend to download the cast recording which is apparently now available on iTunes. All I hope is that this already amazing cast can rouse that extra 10% in vocal richness in order to give it what it needs to walk away with another handful of awards and critical acclaim.