Confidential Musical Theatre Project produced by The Confidential Project performing as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival is one of those gimmicky concept shows you’ll often see at Fringe. Individual cast members are given scripts and scores then sworn to secrecy about the show and their part in it. They show up and perform with no prior knowledge of who they’ll be performing with and with no rehearsal. The audience comes not having a clue as to which musical they’ll see.
At the top of the show, my eyes eagerly scanned the faces of the cast members as they took their seats on stage. Among them I recognized several seasoned musical theatre artists I had seen before along with a bunch of fresh faces I had yet to see perform.
As the first notes of the overture rang out I (silently) squealed with delight as I recognized the opening notes of one of my favourite musicals … Wait a second, I’m not going to tell you which one. That’s confidential.
The format makes for some real, edge-of-your-seat, excitement as well as some big laughs along the way. The cast did not have the luxury of rehearsing together. There’s no pre-determined direction or blocking so cast members have to improvise and make it up on the fly. It’s particularly fun to watch group numbers as ensemble members awkwardly move about the stage trying to coordinate themselves but never quite succeeding.
A lot of ensemble members erred toward the cautious and came off as timid. My advice to them? It’s okay to give it. We came to see you ham it up. I feel like hammy overacting is entirely forgivable in this context and should in fact be encouraged.
The major constraint for the Fringe version of the Confidential Musical Theatre Project is the short time slot. Script re-writes and abridging of text become necessary to shoehorn the show into a one hour slot. Sometimes the plot jumps forward by the waving of hands and saying “Lots of things happen.” If you happen to be unfamiliar with the show presented, plot coherency is sacrificed for brevity.
I was also surprised that given the constraints there were some moments when the performers absolutely knocked it out of the park. The leads especially tend to shine.
Confidential Musical Theatre Project is one of those rare gimmicky Fringe shows that actually works. It’s an unpredictable but delightful, wild ride.
- Confidential Musical Theatre Project plays at the Al Green Theatre. (750 Spadina Ave.)
- Tickets are $12. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Fringe Club at Scadding Court, and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- This venue is barrier-free. Note that only certain building entrances are wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in front of the front row, and may have poor sightlines for certain productions.
- Wednesday July 5th, 10:30 pm
- Friday July 7th, 06:30 pm
- Sunday July 9th, 03:15 pm
- Tuesday July 11th, 09:00 pm
- Thursday July 13th, 09:15 pm
- Friday July 14th, 04:30 pm
- Sunday July 16th, 12:00 pm
Image provided by company