Almost Famous, the University of Salford‘s theatre company, proudly presented their annual Miscast show in the DPL, MediaCityUK, last Friday and Saturday.

It was nothing short of a joyous celebration of all things musical theatre… but not as you know it.

The unique production, now in its second year, showcased some of the best loved numbers from the musical world, while turning traditional gender roles on their head.

There were boys playing girls, girls playing boys, and everything in between.

Almost Famous worked in collaboration with Sal’ For Laughs, the University’s comedy society, who injected a dose of comic relief to proceedings.

The show kicked off with a scene from US sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Covering a comedy sketch is often a tougher task than doing so with a musical number, but the troupe of female comics got the balance between accuracy and originality spot-on.

It didn’t feel like a cheap tribute act at all, and set the atmosphere for a fun night perfectly.

As the evening progressed, the music came in abundance, with a nice mix of solo and ensemble numbers.

The audience was treated to two very different sides of Almost Famous, with the emotional ballads balancing out the borderline outrageous (in the best possible way) uptempo tracks.

Some of the standout vocal performances came during the solo numbers.

This was especially evident in two back-to-back hits from Les Mis (which is French, of course, for “the Mis”, as the hosts jokingly pointed out).

It’s an overworked expression in showbusiness when one says there was barely a dry eye in the house but, after hearing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Bring Him Home’ sung so beautifully, it’s hard to think of a better way to capture the atmosphere.

The first act closed with Dean Garrod’s stunning rendition of ‘Memory’ from Cats, which certainly gave Elaine Paige a run for her money.

There were no gimmicks or flamboyant feline costumes here and, when all of that was stripped back, it was easy to see just how talented a vocalist Dean is.

It was in the second act, though, that the show really came into its own, with gender-defying performances aplenty.

As viewers took their seats for the second half, three female office workers took to the stage for a rendition of the classic ‘9 to 5’, from the musical of the same name.

Except they weren’t actually female office workers, but male performers in drag.

Light-hearted but never tacky, that was very much the territory of Miscast.

Throughout the show, the hosts teased at a performance from “the sexiest burlesque dancers in Salford”, a broad statement.

As the intro to ‘Cell Block Tango’ from Chicago began, half a dozen lads in fishnets and hot pants strutted onto the stage to much excitement from the audience.

This was unforgettable for all the right reasons. The choreography was slick and the vocals strong.

But the highlight by far was a medley of ’80s hits performed by some of the decade’s biggest divas as you’ve never seen them before.

Yes, that’s right, they were all portrayed by men in drag. Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan and her from the Pointer Sisters were among the stars given the Almost Famous treatment in a performance akin to the most bizarre episode of Stars in Their Eyes one will ever see.

It did tread the line between theatre and drunk karaoke at times, but that was the beauty of it. None of the divas were taking themselves too seriously and it was clear that each one was having the time of their lives – much like the audience themselves.

Special mention should go to the compères beyond compare, Will Sweeney and Joe Brady. Salford’s answer to Ant & Dec, they steered the ship in exactly the right direction. Their banter seemed natural and unforced, and they brought the laughs when the music stopped.

On the topic of comedy, a handful of original sketches written by the stars were also a welcome addition. A particular highlight was Take (Me) Out, a hilarious take on the ITV dating show, written by host Joe. The humour was very Vic & Bob-esque, and its stars clearly have a bright future in comedy ahead.

Miscast was truly a sheer joy to watch and everybody in the audience seemed to agree, from the novice musical fan to the Broadway aficionado.

Almost Famous return to the DPL in February 2020 with their new shows Grease and Out of Sight… Out of Murder.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *