If you have the chance, and a spare tenner, I recommend A Chorus Line by King’s College Musical Theatre at the sweet and comfortable Greenwood Theatre behind Guy’s Hospital/London Bridge Station. It is simply – and this is the quote they can put on their webpage – better value than most West End musicals.

Excellent choreography and some really effective characterisations are the hallmarks: what the cast lack in physical maturity actually lends the hopes and dreams of the young auditioning dancers more credibility than the 2013 revival at the Palladium where time-served thirty-something hoofers played the young hopefuls.

It actually took me back to the energy and optimism in the original production I saw on my first visit to New York at Christmas in 1976. Ann Reinking (Mrs Bob Fosse) played Cassie, and Roshani Abbey really did not fall far short although I wished she’d had more mirrors for the big number.

The Marvin Hamlisch score for A Chorus Line demands sustained vocals, and most of the cast would benefit from a workshop in how to belt – but despite not looking remotely Puerto Rican, Emily Ashbrook delivered big time both in ‘Nothing’ and in one of the most surprising and delightful moments for me – since I’d forgotten where it came – leading the company in a flawless ‘What I Did for Love’.

Can’t name everyone, but I admired the stage presence and precision of Tom Stephens as Alan, Peter Noden’s superbly controlled and controlling Zack, Zheng Xi Yong’s energetic Richie, Imogen Tew’s punchy Val, but the acting top trumps go to George Fowler as Paul. Having to punctuate a nearly through-sung musical with a long spoken soliloquy is a tough ask, making it personal and confessional and authentic is even tougher but there were real pin-drop moments.

There’s a problem with sound – a shortage of radio mikes mean some soloists can’t be heard over the band, so director and sound designer need to work out a sharing system for the available kit, and the lighting’s a bit agricultural but otherwise it’s an extraordinarly well-put-together show by director Patrick Bone.

Given that this is a musical theatre society in a university for medics, mathematicians and lawyers – and a few visiting lab coats from Imperial – their standards and focus are remarkable both on stage where there isn’t a single performance you could pick out as duff, and in the orchestra where the bright and brassy band is under the masterful control of 21-year old Shamariah Bennett.

When did you last see a fringe show with a 15-piece pit? And a harp. See what I mean about value?


Tickets available via Eventbrite, here