Review: It’s Only Life, Union Theatre

A revue done right. Aria Entertainment’s It’s Only Life brings John Bucchino’s work to beautiful life at the Union Theatre

“There is a sidewalk in California
Where they put the stars right at your feet
And people delight in stepping on them…”

It’s trickier than you might think to make a revue really work. Putting together a programme of unconnected songs to showcase a composer’s work is one thing, but breathing genuine theatrical life into it is entirely another. Fortunately, the folks behind It’s Only Life, produced by Aria Entertainment at the Union Theatre, have done just that.

The US composer and lyricist John Bucchino is the man of the moment here, in a show conceived by himself and Daisy Prince. But it is tempting to consider director Tania Azevedo the real star, leading a superb company of cast and creatives to elevate what could be something quite slight, into a couple of hours of something really quite moving.

From the ice-cream-hued accents on Justin Williams and Jonny Rust’s design to the sprinkling of William Whelton’s choreography, to the indefatigable piano of MD Nick Barstow (seriously, not even a conversation about a lighting crisis seemed to distract him whilst playing), the world of this show is made to be warm and inviting – a place where you might not mind sharing a secret but equally, a place where you don’t have to if you don’t want.

Which kinda reflects the intimate nature of the songs here, delivered with real emotional precision. Jordan Shaw’s exquisite heartbreak in ‘If I Ever Say I’m Over You’, Jennifer Harding similarly finding the sweet spot through the tears in ‘I’ve Learned To Let Things Go’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’, Noel Sullivan’s gorgeous geniality perking us all up with the delightful and heartfelt ‘Grateful’. A great introduction to Bucchino’s music and a lovely evening in the theatre.

Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Pamela Raith Photography
It’s Only Life is booking at the Union Theatre until 7th July

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