Leader of the Pack Review
‘Leader of the Pack’ is a back catalogue show based mainly on the music and lyrics of Ellie Greenwich and her husband Jeff Barry with additional material from Phil Spector and others.
This show features many of the great songs coming out of the U.S.A. in the early 60’s and Ellie Greenwich produced some great hits for the Ronettes, Crystals and as the title suggests the Shangri-La’s. Almost as prolific as Lennon & McCartney but not as well known the show tells her story through the lyrics of the songs. As in the case of ‘Buddy’ the ratio of dialogue to songs seems out of balance with little opportunity for the performers to show off their acting skills.
What they have in abundance is vocal talent, together with an amazing amount of energy.
The cast consists of five girls and two boys and it’s the females that do most of the work. What’s new you cry but they are the Ronettes, also playing a host of other parts falls to Kallie Mingay and the two Hannahs Lanford and Barton.
Paxton Haven captures the cynicism of the recording producer,Gus Sharkey while Trey King plays the laid back husband Jeff Barry.
Petite Kitty Janvrin is very likeable as Ellie Greenwich whose aim is to make it out of Levittown and into the music industry. She takes lead vocals on a mixture of numbers including some written for the show as well as ‘And then he kissed me’, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ and ‘I wanna love him so bad’.
All the singers cope well with the range of songs but special mention to Hannah Lanford who takes the lead on too many hit songs to mention but she sings with great gusto.
The other two Ronettes also make a great contribution in there various roles. Rayana Briggs is accomplished in all that she does including delivering two solos.
The dancing routines are very good but perhaps there is sameness when there are so many songs of the same genre. This comment does not apply to the many costume changes when the girls are not singing onstage they must be changing dresses or pouring themselves into skin tight jeans
Music is provided by piano and bass and Greg Boatwright and Owen Macdonald worked really hard with great skill to provide a platform for the singers.
The Palmetto Center for the Arts, from South Carolina, is a welcome addition to the Fringe keeping up the professional standard we expect of the American high school musical. Probably the best value in Edinburgh at £5 a ticket for 80 mins of nostalgic music from the 60's.
Runs to 13th August, times vary