Review: Pandora the musical at Media Factory, UCLan

Posted on - 15th February, 2014 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Opinion, Reviews, University campus, What's On in Preston



I was invited on twitter by Ashley Walsh, the creator of the book, lyrics and music for ‘Pandora the Musical’ to come and review the show.

The concept of a musical based on Greek mythology intrigued me as this is one of my interests. It was performed by students on the Music Theatre course at UCLan.

Firstly, I loved the composition of the music and the character songs. The lyrics showed the development and inner turmoil of the different ‘god’ roles. There was clear plotline which allowed for some moments of action and light humour.

While I enjoyed the concept I was underwhelmed by the ability of some of the cast. I felt that vocally it was quite limited and the acting was equally so. In order to develop this piece, each role needed a clear identifiable attribute that could have been somehow physicalised and vocalised.

The vocal skill of the cast was limited in terms of their singing and actor voices. They needed to have vocal range to engage their audience and to convey their roles more effectively.

The group songs did not always have the energy or momentum that would be appropriate for a group of powerful ‘gods’ (whether they lost their powers or not). There could have been more layered vocals that almost belted into the theatre space to command the audience’s attention and establish their roles. I almost imagine the opening song should be more like a chamber choir.

The role of Pandora played by Emily Bird was one of the stronger performances. She had good vocal range and her acting through song drew us in as an audience. I also liked Emily Carter as Athena. She had good emotion to her voice and you could believe she was a blunt god who believed in her own honour and with inner wisdom.

The section with the ‘fates’ was interesting visually and vocally. I liked the movement sections and the vocal dynamics of this choral role.

They added a menacing quality and the singing sections supported the notion that you cannot escape your ‘fate’.

In terms of set, the pillars looked perfect for the labyrinth setting. My dislike was the movable platform that was manoeuvred around the space. I felt that more could have been done with the studio space to establish a change of setting and emotion. There was a section with the umbrellas which was really effective. It allowed for a quick change of scenes and for other characters to appear from nowhere.

The final number ‘There is Truth within the Myth’ was really good. It left a lasting impact on the audience and was a good closing number. It had more power behind the vocal – I only wished it had been consistent the whole way through.

I think this piece has a lot of potential and would need further development if it was to be produced for a tour or for larger public audiences.

I would give this show 3/5 stars and I would like to see more of Ashley Walsh’s creations. The concept of this piece was sound.

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