It’s been three years since I saw I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical, and as someone who can barely remember what he had for lunch three weeks ago, it’s fair to say watching this production again, in a completely different venue, with a completely different cast, felt like a novel experience. Whatever one’s level of experience with what it means to be a musical theatre actor, this is a show that exposes some uncomfortable truths about the industry but also goes some way to explaining why it is that musical actors do what they do, and take great offence at the slightest hint at possibly considering doing something else with their lives, that offers more financial stability (that is, some in the first place) and essentially allows them to earn more money for less work.
Those in the know are at liberty to attempt to spot quite how many different musicals are referred to one way or another in a surprisingly comprehensive show that goes on a journey from childhood ambitions to drama school to first professional credit to being a stalwart of the theatre. In some ways, it feels like a confessional account, and while it’s hammy with a capital H, it’s also wholly and entirely believable, and perhaps even borderline shocking to anyone wholly unfamiliar with the industry. There are, frankly, things that wouldn’t be tolerated in other industries. An example: when I was invited to interview for my current day job, I was asked to provide some suitable dates and times within a specified period that would work best for me. Auditionees rarely, if ever, have that kind of flexibility – first auditions are at a certain time and place, end of story. Same for callbacks, and however many subsequent rounds after that. And don’t even go there with regards to an actor who chooses to start a family.
Whilst providing plenty of laughs, there’s an underlying moral about knowing one’s limits and looking after oneself. In one scene, a principal pushes on, despite displaying symptoms of a certain virus, because he doesn’t want to let his audience down, evidently risking long-term and even permanent damage to himself in the process. Joanna Goodwin’s sprightly choreography puts the cast (Luke Harley, Hannah Taylor, Harry Winchester and Alice Ellen Wright) through their paces – I suspect there may not be any acting going on whenever they stop momentarily to catch their breath.
The quality of the observational comedy here is on a par with the ‘as seen on TV’ stand-up comics who sell out the largest Fringe venues year after year. An utter joy, and a reminder of how wonderful live theatre performances can be, whether everything goes swimmingly or there’s a monumental screwup, or two, or ten on the night. Highly recommended.
Review by Chris Omaweng
From voice-straining high notes to limb-spraining high kicks, via on-stage smooches and offstage feuds, I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical from iTunes comedy album chart-topper Alexander S. Bermange reveals everything that you could want to know about being a musical theatre performer… if only there were any who would dare to admit it.
Composer/Lyricist/MD Alexander S. Bermange
Director/Choreographer Joanna Goodwin
Associate Director/Choreographer Holly Prentice
Co-Arranger Jerome van den Berghe
Cast Alice Ellen Wright
I Wish My Life
Were Like A Musical
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (The Other Yin), 3 Chambers Street,
Edinburgh, EH1 1HT
Wednesday 3rd – Sunday 28th August 2022, 20:45