Review by Carly Fisher
If you’re a fan of musical theatre (like this reviewer is), it’s hard not to feel like ‘I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical’ was written specifically for you. In fact, not just for you, but about you.
An hour of original music about the experience of being a Broadway/West End fan and an aspiring performer, this show is so relatable whilst simultaneously being both well constructed and well executed.
4 performers and a Musical Director make up the on stage team - Jennifer Caldwell, Sev Keoshgerian, Rhidian Marc, Julie Yammanee, and on the keys is the writer of the show himself, Alexander S. Bermange. Between them, the group has a set of very impressive resumes - a reminder of the opportunity that Edinburgh Fringe is to see people at the top of their game participating again in Independent Theatre and being part of the creation of great new theatre. It is exciting and it is what makes this Fringe excel beyond others around the world - this is a the ultimate testing ground for new pieces of theatre.
Bermange’s musicality shines through the clever lyrics and compositions through the show. In fact, days later when writing this review, a few songs are still playing on repeat through my head as I write…’the diva’s in the house….’ - sorry, not the time for a musical interruption!
Certain songs stand out more than others - Keoshgerian’s song about being a slight hypochondriac is one of those for me. Keoshgerian is a fabulous talent and through each song, his characterisation is on point, making him a great comedic addition to this team. Simultaneously though, it is Keoshgerian that offers the heart pull of the night with a song that will make you cringe at the thought of ever being disappointed to have a standby on instead…oh my heart!
Yammanee too proves an excellent comedian as well - particularly in her song about stars that are slightly off key - hilarious! In fact, Yammanee has a number of great solo moments throughout that offer many opportunities to show off her great vocal range.
Jennifer Caldwell proves how seasoned a performer she is throughout her songs, even offering a bit of crowd work thrown in that absolutely has the audience rooting for her - her beautiful vocals are certainly matched by the joy you can see that she has from being on stage. I felt that she offered the most natural performance of the group.
And rounding out the cast, Marc gives great performances throughout as well but it is a song about a sticky keyboard and having to change keys that for me, shows him off the best. Just great!!
Musically, the show soars and you can see why it will easily be a fringe favourite this year, especially for us musical theatre lovers. The limited book between, and the choreography, is, in my honest opinion, simply too cheesy, and at times that reads as insincere. I imagine that this was a directorial choice to maintain the energy of the show for the hour run time and whilst I understand it, I would have liked to see what this talented team was capable of beyond the ‘overplay.’ The cheese being there through the songs is endearing but a more natural approach in between songs would, in my opinion, expand this show’s audience beyond just the musical theatre diehards. Similarly, with SUCH talented performers on stage, I am confident that some slightly more advanced choreography could be included to elevate the show further for its post fringe life.
The set is clever and works well for a fringe show, making the stage feel full throughout but offering simple opportunities for transitions and on stage prop storage that I certainly appreciated. The costumes felt a little on the lame side with the trope of old school musical theatre sequinned jackets being perhaps used just a few too many times, but even that mattered very little. The show is a ball of fun that has you smiling throughout and appreciative of the opportunity to indulge in the great vocals throughout.
A definite musical highlight of the fringe that I am sure will have a great life beyond Edinburgh too. I am looking forward to seeing what is next for this great team as well and looking out for them in future shows - especially whatever writer Bermange creates next - they are ones to watch.