The objective of Leeway Productions 10 Minute Musicals is to provide real-world, collaborative training, networking and safe space performance opportunity for artists.
The end of week performances then at The Other Room performance space, Cardiff’s pub theatre, while open to the public, are more a sharing of outcomes, ideas, concepts.
That is not to say some of what the absolutely packed audience were lucky enough to experience at this culmination of Leeway Productions first 2017 10 Minute Musicals were splendid and (as with the initial 10MM project in 2016) remarkable in having been created so speedily.
The five very different short pieces, ranged from the ribald and hilarious, classic and intense to soulful and dramatic.
The afternoon began with Gwydion Rhys singing a song from The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown which is one of Leeway Productions development projects. The charismatic and experienced performer set a high standard for the performances with the dramatic monologue.
The first of the collaborations was You and You and You and Me from Dafydd Rhys Evans, Melanie De Vos and Tobias Weatherburn, a hilarious satire about a young woman Lotty who dreams of getting pregnant to get a council house – but which of her men will be the perfect father? Perfectly performed, witty and cheeky with a darker social comment within the humour – this will be seen and heard again!
This rib tickler was followed by a sweeping and varied duet The Proving from Ethan John Davies and Catrin Fflur, performed by Lynwen Haf Roberts and Angharad Elise. The singers were accompanied on the piano by Ethan John Davies on piano. This uses the analogy of making and selling bread to develop the individual characters of the two performers and the dynamics of their relationship, both as individuals and as generic characters. The combination of contrasting female voice types worked well while the lyrics packed with puns and interpretations of bread-making jargon rose to the occasion. (Sorry). It would be interesting how the writers envisage the song in a musicals context.
Perhaps the darkest song came from Christopher Michael Young and Heledd Bianchi’s troubling but ultimately hopeful duet performed by Abigail Fitzgerald and Kate Griffiths. The two women argue through their performance about issuing concerning the upbringing of a child, the frictions, rivalry, disagreements between the two women but the eventual realisation they have to let go.
Gwydion returned to perform with Megan Llewelyn in the perhaps most quasi operatic offering from Mathew Holmquist and Peter Cox, based on the classical Greek mythology, a boatman on the river Styx and a goddess. These scenes are a dysfunctional love story, beautifully accompanied by cello, with the two characters alternating their need for salvation from/delivered by the other. An exquisitely sung performance and perhaps part of a project that has been in the minds of the composer/writer for some time?
The performances ended with a dramatic dialogue between two friends Jack and Liam. Composed and written by Tim Riley and Christina Bevan, the rites of passage tory told through conversations between performers Aled Wyn-Thomas and Huw Blainey starts with the premise that one lad is getting on with his life while the other continues to play the young joker. The comedy has a light touch, the characterisations are sharp and appealing with the dramatic outcome; that they are both scared of commitment, neatly handled and the closing vocal harmony delightful.