It's been a while since we've had an installment of the brilliant The Theatre Channel series. Filmed (mostly) at the Theatre Cafe, the series has had a midseason break but returns after a 3 month break for a big episode with the theme of the biggest songs you can think of - that's right, Showstoppers (no, not the improv comedy group though they're still fantastic)
The recurring theme for the first five episodes of this series is constant one-upmanship. Each episode outdid the last with bigger songs and bigger settings. Episode six is no different and ups the ante by venturing outside of The Theatre Cafe more than it has done before.
The show opens with Theatre Cafe manager Jack Malin recruiting for a new ensemble, cleverly advertising as "Help wanted" with a nod to this weeks reopenings of theatres. The new cafe Five consists of Anthony Starr, Danny Becker, Kayleigh Thadani, M-Jae
Cleopatra Isaac and Vicki Lee Taylor who replace the previous Cafe Four with an utterly joyful rendition of 'There's No Business Like Showbusiness'.
Pretty Woman star Danny Mac takes on lockdown favourite The Last Five Years giving us his best Jamie in a fabulous 'Moving Too Fast' sitting outside the cafe and blurring the lines between reality and fantasy in clever scenes featuring the New Cafe Five playing dual roles. Real life sisters Amber and Jade Davies give us their best Side Show with a medley of 'I Will Never Leave You' and 'Who Will Love Me As I Am' proving that talent is in short supply in that family.
The rest of the show ventures outside more than the other episodes have. Kerry Ellis delivers a powerful rendition of 'Always Starting Over' from If/Then - a refreshing song choice from a musical that has yet to make it this side of the pond and deserves to be more well known than it is.
Layton Williams takes on a role he was born to play as he channels 'Lola' from Kinky Boots for a truly stunning 'Hold Me In Your Heart' venturing from performing on stage in a fabulous outfit that could have come straight out of the show to a confrontation with his father on the street. Bringing true beauty and emotion to the song, it feels like only a matter of time before Layton puts those kinky boots on his feet for real and is cast as Lola.
The standout performance of the night comes from Mary Poppins star Katie Deacon who delivers the very definition of a showstopper with 'Music and the Mirror' from A Chorus Line. Starting with a faithful rendition of the song, the performance gets bigger and bigger and so does the setting. Deacon showcases her incredible performance skills, dancing around the sights of London in what is surely The Theatre Channel's most ambitious performance to date. Truly jawdropping to watch, the performance is utterly mesmerising and is a testament to what can be achieved through the medium of virtual theatre.
There's more A Chorus Line to come as the episode ends with a lengthy behind-the-scenes feature, as the original producers of the iconic show revisit their memories on the show in memorandum to its Tony award winning choreographer Bob Avian. The feature also includes an interview with Hollywood superstar Antonio Banderes. A lovely bonus giving you more bang for your buck and a must see for any fans of the legendary show.
Producer Adam Blanshay has struck gold again with this episode. With some of the biggest and best names in musical theatre sinking their teeth into some classics and underrated gems in what are truly phenomenal sequences, The Theatre Channel have notched up their sixth sensational episode in a row. With a Rodgers and Hammerstein episode on the horizon, there is clearly no stopping this show.
All episodes of The Theatre Channel so far are available to stream from https://www.stream.theatre/season/108