Interviewed for, former Fest director Paul Gudgin trails his big band show by identifying his favourite number as “a fantastic version of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ fromSweet Charity“. That he didn’t appear to know it comes from Funny Girl seemed exemplary of the many cock-ups in this thrown-together one-night stand.

The A4-photocopied “Razz Big Band” labels stuck onto the music stands suggests a random assemblage of session musos most of whom peer closely at the dots throughout rather than relaxing into confident jazz improvisations. And there were some cataclysmic mistakes, particularly among the brass section whose multiple casualties littered the car-crash near the end of a West Side Story medley.

The chorus of what looked like local amateurs was under-rehearsed and tragically choreographed, although several of them sang extremely well in the Hairspray finale. The unannounced soloists varied from a confident and polished delivery of “Mack the Knife” to two musically excellent divas, one tall and blonde and one Bassey statuesque who sang brilliantly but might just take a closer look at the lyrics, which caused some mistiming issues in Roxie’s big number from Chicago and, unforgiveably, “Over the Rainbow”.

What's On StageOriginally published on What’s On Stage.