MASC, The Actor’s Studio. Theatre Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Beckie Van Netten, Gary Power, Lisa Kenyon, Betty O’Brien, James Parr, Nancy Clarke, Emma Beldon, Joanne Vickers, Phil Birrs, Emma Devaney, Julie Connolly, Natasia Hodge, Faye Parkinson, Kiefer Lewis, Tom Oulton, Francesca Wright.

With Liverpool having an abundance of culture, music, both live and recorded, theatre and every other sort that most cities in the U.K. would gleefully grab hold with both hands the chance to attend even a tenth of what goes on by the River Mersey, the possibility of another troupe of talented artists forming another group that people want to go along to see could be a stretch, even for Liverpool.  However art is very much embraced in the city and when the company is MASC, even five minutes watching and listening is enough to convince the attendee that it is and that they sound great.

The huge ensemble took over the Liverpool Actor’s Studio on a busy Saturday afternoon in the city and moment by moment, song by amazing song, gradually took each member of the audience on a trip through some of the great musical numbers of the last few decades and some that may not have even been recognisable at first but by the end of the final note had become a favourite of all.

MASC is very much a community based performing arts group, their mantra is simple but very effective and the way they operate, the very essence in the way they hold themselves on stage is not just to be applauded but spoken highly of in every nook and cranny and as far and wide as is possible to go. Whether it was songs from Les Miserables, including a very superb version of the outrageous Master of the House, the beautiful I Know Him So Well, which was made famous by Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige, from Chess or Holding Out for a Hero from Footloose, each tune was handled with great reverence but with a wealth of fun that spilled over from the minimalist stage setting and infectiously through to the crowd.

Although to single anyone out from a community ensemble piece is possibly not the done thing, Betty O’ Brien, who did a superb version of Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich’s Taylor the Latte Boy, Beckie Van Netten, Faye Devaney and Gary Power were outstanding and on Gary Power’s solo piece for Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables sent shivers down the spine. All brought together by the superb stage direction of Natasia Hodge.

A very cool way to spend a couple of hours in good company and being entertained by a very talented set of people. A real joy.

Ian D. Hall