Die Fledermaus at the Kings Theatre, Southsea

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The University of Portsmouth Dramatic and Musical Society are at the Kings this week with Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus

Considering we have a cast with an average age of about 22, one stands in awe of their singing abilities. This is hard-core operetta that trained singers would fight to master, but this is clearly red-flag-to-a-bull stuff for this young cast.

Emily Buck – a UPDMS stalwart - outshines the rest, vocally, as Rosalinde. Her seemingly-effortless soprano does death-defying musical leaps without so much as a ruffled hair from Ms Buck. Watch out, too, for wonderful playing from Sophie McAdam Clark as Adele. Her rendition of Adele’s famous Laughing Song is a high-point.

But the men are damn fine, too.

Paul Bruce as Eisenstein has a throwaway confidence that suits the part and nice to see Philip Donald shamelessly (but rightly) stealing every scene he’s in as the stammering lawyer. Both contribute strong vocals, too.

But this show – and a healthy future in performing, one hopes – belongs to all-singing, all-acting Matt Cooper, whose Alfred is a character-actor’s masterclass.

Some poor direction, particularly of the ensemble, makes the thing cluttered, but the singing makes up for all of that.

Until Saturday.

JAMES GEORGE