SHINE LIKE THE SUN EXETER UNIVERSITY SPOTLIGHTS

With all the swagger and ferocity of a been-there West End troupe, Exeter University Spotlights took to the Exeter Phoenix last night to smack the punters in the gob with reasons to be cheerful, reasons why they are more than ready to take on Edinburgh.

No stopping this show-stopping show choir, who deliver Musical Theatre's greatest songs with fearlessness and panache. Dancing to the tune of their own hot, defiant band, they soar into 'And You Don't Even Know It' from smash hit 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' and the theme is set. Diversity, eccentricity ‎and aberration are flaunted to the hilt. No more 'normal', forget inclusion, it's about being out with the out-crowd. Come as you are, everybody counts, write your own rules. Freddie Mercury did when he wrote 'Somebody to Love', celebrated here in a brazen channelling of his nuclear energy. There's 'Matilda''s exuberant 'Loud', 'Book of Mormon''s outlandish 'All-American Prophet', 'Burlesque''s 'Show Me How You...' and "Billy Elliot''s 'Expressing Yourself'. 'Freak Flag' from 'Shrek the Musical', 'So Much Better' from 'Legally Blonde' and 'Shine Like the Sun' from '9-5' are roof-lifting. 'If I Had My Time Again' from 'Groundhog Day' shimmers with the over-riding sentiment, its soloists surpassing themselves. Regrets? We've had a few. We shouldn't dwell on them.

Dancers? Agility to send eyebrows skywards, to elasticate throats. That's just the boys. Take your eyes off the sock-it-to-'em females for a moment, to savour masculine strength, sensuality and gasp-inducing interpretation. This production could not be more aptly-named. It blazes, brilliantly and moreishly. It leaves the crowd screaming. Head north to catch them at the Edinburgh Festival this August.

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