Shrewsbury School

'What You Will' receives 5* reviews from Edinburgh Fringe

Wednesday 24 August 2011

The School's production of What You Will at Edinburgh Fringe from 15th - 21st August received three 5-star reviews, and played to audiences of around 90 people each day (quite a feat for a lunchtime performance slot).  The British Theatre Guide described it as 'a production that oozed professionalism and was performed with energy and commitment' and 'a sheer delight', and Broadway Baby as 'a pleasure to watch, a real treat for the eyes and the ears.'  The reviews are reproduced below,

Our Senior Master, Peter Fanning (who wrote the script for What You Will) was interviewed by Radio Shropshire on his return from Edinburgh.  In this short clip, he talks about how to set about getting a show on at the Edinburgh Fringe, and what it is like being a part of it: Peter Fanning's interview with Radio Shropshire (mp3 file).

Peter Fanning also wrote a report on the Edinburgh tour: What You Will - Report.
The British Theatre Guide: What You Will
Lyrics by Peter Fanning, music by John Moore
Shrewsbury School
C Central

Shrewsbury School have established an excellent reputation for their productions at the Fringe and this year is no exception. What You Will is a magnificent musical reworking of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and is a sheer delight.

The beautifully costumed confident cast give highly polished performances throughout in this vibrant musical with a rich score ranging from sentimental ballads to rousing chorus numbers performed live by a talented orchestra under the highly competent musical direction of John Moore.

The thoroughly talented young cast perform with zest and dedication and sing beautifully with some impressive harmonies.

Malvolio finally dressing up in black leathers and chains was hilarious and worked superbly, as did the simple white wrought iron set.

With powerful performances from the main characters and strong support from the remainder of the cast this was a production that oozed professionalism and was performed with energy and commitment.

Director Peter Fanning should be exceedingly proud of this sparkling production. I urge you to go. This show should be high on your must see list.

Robin Strapp
Broadway Baby Review
What You Want:  5 Stars
Reviewed by Fen Greatley
August 30, 2011 

Shrewsbury School here lives up to its gleaming reputation with a technically flawless production. Their telling of Twelfth Night, cleverly titled using the play's alternative name, is of the highest quality in every respect. Gleaming vocals, beautiful couture and the work of, I suspect, a dozen stage hands feature in this show.

Most importantly, of course, the rendering of the plot is marvellous – never have I ever seen a cleaner, clearer exposition of the storyline; and Twelfth Night's a complex one, what with all the deception amidst the general tomfoolery and skulduggery.

It was a pleasure to watch, a real treat for the eyes and the ears. Each cast member possesses the necessary empathy and intelligence to really engage with their part and bring it to life. All size parts were artfully played, each actor bringing in something personal.

The role of Antonio was highly emotionally charged and for once didn't seem oddly under-developed. Gus Haynes's solo brought shivers to my spine, caressing every note and delivering it beautifully.

Maria (Hebe Dickins) and Sir Toby (Ed Key) are brilliant as the agents of conspiracy, as were the Festes (an unusual choice to have two, but having them as Artful Dodger types did work), Rob Cross and Ali Webb. The Festes' voices were the strongest male vocals, so it was wise to manipulate the role of Feste into a narrator of sorts, as it gave them more stage time and opportunity to showcase their talents.

Malvolio's melodrama brought the house down, his pomp and ceremony played out wonderfully. His singing style reflected his role nicely, overly florid and operatic, and complementary to Olivia. At no point did he seem like a boy or an actor pretending to be someone else. It was most fascinating.

A paragraph must go to our leading lady, Viola (Izzy Osborne), whose voice was heavenly. A beautiful actress, she captured the essence of her character fantastically, conveying the torment Viola feels at being torn between loyalty to, and love for, Orsino.

The score is a real triumph. The script is cleverly and skilfully adapted into song form, with each song enhancing the emotions felt in what is really a series of private monologues, perfectly suited to a musical presentation. There are a couple of numbers with an inspired coming-together of the the play’s themes, which gently reminds you what’s going on and refocuses the dramatic tension, as well the wonderful duet between Cesario and Olivia that I’d been wanting, and a rousing anthem at the end.

The Stage

What You Will
Shrewsbury School
C Venues
15th - 20th August


If you are a die-hard fan of the Bard, this almost entirely sung version of Twelfth
Night may not be for you. However, it is not without its own charm. For one thing, amongst dozens of glitzy musicals with trans-Atlantic Disney influences on the Fringe, it was
refreshing to see one that had not only a live band but also a quaintly English
feel. The set – white painted iron garden decor with climbing roses – reflected this, as did many of the melodies, which were reminiscent of the Music Hall tradition, particularly those sung by the two Artful Dodger-styled Festes (Ali Webb and Rob Cross, a fine tenor
and baritone pairing).

Composer John Moore’s vocal parts intertwined in rich harmonic polyphony and the
young cast showed great ability for maintaining the key and time signatures, which were challenging at times.

Director Peter Fanning preferred a happy-go-lucky breeze through the synopsis to a
thematic interpretation of the text; that said, the elements of farce were strong, particularly the Sebastian and Viola/Cesario identity confusion in the last two acts, and there were some toe-tapping numbers. Top marks to Shrewsbury’s ensemble, within whose midst
were some truly excellent singers, notably Webb and Cross, Izzy Osborne (Viola) and
Sam Ansloos (Malvolio). Adopting the play’s alternate title, this was an enjoyable alternative retelling of Twelfth Night.

Review by Steve Graney

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