Imagine the scene – an eclectic group of people are gathered together in a highrise New York apartment on New Year’s Eve 1999 for the party to end all parties. Planned in meticulous detail by hostess Jennifer, early in the evening she discovers a damning piece of paper that reveals that husband Christopher has been unfaithful, and the handwriting shared with slips for a game of charades indicates that the other guilty party is right there in the room, but who can it be?
If you’re the kind of person who likes to mix it up at parties then When Midnight Strikes will be very familiar – I’ve certainly met all of these well-rounded characters at various times, but none of them have ever had the vocal skills of these actors! Miranda Wilford plays uptight hostess Jennifer, and its not an outrageous claim to say that there’s more than a little Dusty Springfield in her angst-filled musical numbers (particularly the finale) – she really is a wonder. Stephanie Parker as tarty temptress Nicole is also superb. Fortunately, the musical does have some levity to alleviate the gloomy mix of brow-beating and accusations – the Busby Berkeley-esque ‘Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em‘, where the cast circle around sporting long cigarette holders, is great fun as is ‘I’m Gonna Make Love To You‘, where buxom neighbour Murial (Lucyelle Cliffe) makes increasingly lewd suggestions to nerdy computer millionaire Edward (Newley Aucutt). It’s hilarious, particularly when it gets physical – the poor guy doesn’t know what’s hit him!
When Midnight Strikes is a really neat package – convincing performances, powerful voices, catchy tunes, flawless costuming and an interesting set. Upstairs At The Gatehouse is also a fine venue – despite being above a pub like most of it’s off-West End contemporaries it’s very generously proportioned, which makes a pleasant change from the usual cramped conditions…
As I said you can catch When Midnight Strikes through until 29 September. Performances take place Tuesday thru Saturday at 7:30pm with a Sunday matinée at 4 in the afternoon, with tickets ranging in price from £10 to £18. A bargain given the quality of this production. Get them while they’re hot!