Featuring the likes of Jenna Russell, Matt Henry and Carrie Hope Fletcher, Episode 1 of The Theatre Channel is a roaring success
“Believe me, my admiration for you hasn’t died”
As big question marks remain over if and when theatre doors will start opening again, the move to online delivery of musical theatre has taken an interesting turn with the arrival of The Theatre Channel. It is officially described as a web series but it is basically a musical theatre version of classic Top of the Pops online, ie heaven!
Set on location in (and on top of) The Theatre Café, the first episode was a slick half hour of cracking entertainment that really gladdened the heart. Director Bill Deamer offers a slice of real variety across its six numbers but also maintains a high level of quality, right down to the witty timing of the snippets of choreography he introduces via the inhouse ensemble.
The Café Four (Alyn Hawke, Emily Langham, Sadie-Jean Shirley and Alex Woodward) make for an inspired beginning with their rendition of ‘Coffee in a Cardboard Cup’ and their presence throughout is a neat unifying factor across the performances. Of those, I loved Oliver Ormson and Carrie Hope Fletcher going all out to give us a full-on ‘Suddenly Seymour’, transforming St Martin’s Lane to Skid Row even if only for a few moments.
And Jodie Steele taking it to the roof to nail Jesus Christ Superstar’s ‘Heaven on Their Minds’ was spectacular, Ben Hewis’ cinematography here is worthy of any pop video. I also particularly appreciated Matt Henry’s soaring version of ‘Let it Sing’ from Violet as though the undimmed vocal prowess of Lucie Jones and Tarinn Callender ensures their renditions of classics ‘Maybe This Time’ and ‘On Broadway’ are excellent, I hope that The Theatre Channel makes some time for newer, less established musicals to get a bit of a showcase as well.
That said, when we’re given the extraordinary treat of Jenna Russell’s ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ in close up, you can’t complain. This most talented of performers (just listen what she does with the hat, fat rhyme) makes investing in this episode worth it alone. And it is an investment as when you buy your ticket to download, you can then watch as many times as you want. If that hasn’t whetted your appetite enough, the next episode will be Hallowe’en themed and will feature Linzi Hateley, Bradley Jaden, Sophie Isaacs, Josh Piterman and Aimie Atkinson singing songs from Carrie, Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde.