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REVIEW: Gospo Collective’s – Whitney, The Greatest Love Of All

Review by Markus Hamence – Performance Tuesday 27 February 2024, Adelaide Fringe, Gluttony, South Australia

Whitney: The Greatest Love of All – A Gospo Collective Triumph

Let me paint you a picture of an evening that’s not just another night out; it’s an experience, a journey through music, emotion, and the unparalleled talent of Whitney Houston, as brought to life by the Gospo Collective in their show, ‘Whitney: The Greatest Love of All’. You know when you walk into a venue, and there’s this palpable buzz in the air, that feeling of anticipation? That’s what greeted me as I stepped into the space where the show was about to unfold.

To start with, I need to mention, the show started almost 1/2 an hour late due to tech issues (part of the biz, it happens – BUT nothing compared to what Madonna does to her fans – four hours + late). My point to this is Charmaine Jones handled it like the pro she is. Instead of hanging backstage ensuring she was ‘make-up and hair ready’ when us punters were allowed in, she graciously stood on stage the entire time and welcome us all in one-by-one calling out names as she saw familiar faces, even introducing her parents and apologising to them for ‘always unsettling their days’. Showing no stress in her composure she ensured everyone was apologised to and felt comfortable for the ensuing show. She is a total champ AND that is why she is adored and respected.

Then it begun…

The Power of Voices

From the moment the first note was hit, it was clear this wasn’t going to be a mere musical tribute. It was a powerful homage, a celebration of a voice that defined a generation, interpreted through the soul-stirring harmonies of the Gospo Collective. The opening strains of ‘Jesus Loves You’ (from The Bodyguard movie) swiftly morphed in the iconic ‘I Wanna Dance’, then it did not stop. The choir, known for its dynamic range and emotional depth, took us on a journey through Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, from the uplifting ‘I Get So Emotional’ to the heart-wrenching ‘I Have Nothing’.

The Arrangements – A Fresh Perspective

What set this show apart for me were the arrangements. Imagine Whitney’s classics, now infused with the rich harmonies and vibrant energy of gospel and soul music. It was like hearing these songs for the first time all over again. The Gospo Collective’s director (Charmaine), whose vision brought this show to life, mentioned in an interview how they aimed to connect the audience with Whitney’s music in a way that was both familiar and new. Mission accomplished, I say. Tick.

A Visual and Auditory Feast

The stage setup was simple yet effective, allowing the music and the performers’ raw emotions to shine. The lighting played a crucial role in setting the mood for each song, transitioning smoothly from the joyful exuberance of ‘How Will I Know’ to the solemn introspection of ‘Run to You’. There was shimmery costumes (with Charmaine’s by Kat M Designs), dancing with some killer choreography and energy to lap up. It was a visual representation of the journey Whitney’s music has taken us on over the years.

Standout Performances

While the entire ensemble was nothing short of spectacular, there were standout performances that etched themselves in my memory. The solo renditions of ‘Greatest Love Of All’ and ‘Exhale (Shoop Shoop)’ were so powerful, so filled with passion, that they brought the audience to a standstill, hanging onto every word, every note. These performances didn’t just cover Whitney’s songs; they paid tribute to her spirit, her strength, and her vulnerability. The backdrop of a large choir was stunning and pitch perfect, heavenly indeed. Then some kids marched on in their own version of confidence and melted EVERYONE’S hearts. Argh… It was beautiful and watching them attempt to awkwardly adjust their mic stands only adding to the joy.

A Night to Remember

As the final notes of ‘Queen Of The Night’ resonated through the venue, there was a collective sense of having shared something special, something memorable. ‘Whitney: The Greatest Love of All’ by the Gospo Collective was more than just a musical tribute. It was a reminder of the power of music to move, to inspire, and to bring people together. If you have a chance to catch this show, don’t hesitate. It’s not just for Whitney fans; it’s for anyone who appreciates the power of music, the beauty of the human voice, and the joy of live performance.

I asked a few people on the way out their thoughts…

“A great show. You’ll be left mesmerised by the amazing vocals. The choir did such a stunning job, they sounded brilliant throughout the entire show and stayed on-point. There was so much going on, as a visual treat, you almost never knew where to look next :)” Jodie M, Golden Grove, South Australia

“It could have gone on for much longer, a thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment by SOUTH AUSTRALIANS! – Bravo” Claire B, Dulwich, South Australia

I have seen Gospo in various incarnations of shows, Jackson vs Jackon, ABBA, The Carpenters, each one is a joy. This choir is exceptional AND they’re SA based. Please support this groundbreaking, follow-your-own-rules troupe of talents. Could I love them anymore?… I doubt it!

For tickets, dates and show information, click here!

Markus Hamence interviews Charmaine Jones
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