THE highs and lows of life with an amateur musical theatre group are poignantly brought to the stage with Musical Theatre Salisbury’s compelling new show This is My Song.

Its creators Mark Powell and Ben Occhipinti spent hours interviewing members, past and present, about the tension, excitement and sheer pleasure that comes from joining an “am dram”

group, including auditioning, rehearsing and performing in front of an audience.

These enlightening anecdotes – that will be achingly familiar to anyone who has ever been tempted to tread the boards – have been blended with songs from famous shows and several less well known numbers that really capture the unique life experience being part of amateur theatre can bring.

This talented cast of 20 tell us of finding love, overcoming illness, making new friendships and tackling personal demons throughout this musical review.

And the result is a truly charming and heartfelt production.

Although not a criticism I would particularly level at MTS, some amateur dramatic productions become bogged down by performers earnestly “pretending”

to be something they are not.

This is My Song strips away that pretence and the audience is left with an honest and engaging production that doesn’t take itself too seriously and manages not to become mawkish despite the touching tales of self-doubt, loneliness and heartbreak we are being told.

With about half the musical numbers involving the whole cast, and everyone having plenty to say, this is a true ensemble show.

However, in the spirit of all amateur musical theatre, there will always be a star and in this show that role is filled by the talented Laura Simmons.

Her performance of Just a Housewife had spine-tingling sentiment but she shone in each number she was in.

Many young members of the cast also showed great promise for the future of this society which has its fair share of stalwarts who must be praised for their commitment and sense of fun.

Well known songs like Maybe This Time, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat and Applause got the audience toe-tapping along but there were also several songs that would have been new to all but the most die-hard of musical theatre fans.

More movement and dance in the second half – including a nice tap routine – gave us more to look at after the interval but most pieces were well choreographed and the show moved along at a brisk pace.

The cast’s true love of what they do, and the special camaraderie that comes from the culmination of months of rehearsal and performing a live show, really shines through in This is My Song.

And that spills off the stage into the auditorium, meaning the audience can share in and enjoy Britain’s love of amateur musical theatre.