Starring Lee Mead, Kerry Ellis and more, this streaming production of revue Closer Than Ever makes a good impression on BroadwayHD
“I know something that people don’t know”
A revue is always tricky to review. As a random collection of songs by the same composer, unconnected by a book as in a conventional musical, they can be a bit scattershot, relying on directorial vision to provide some kind of thematic consistency that provides a satisfying cohesiveness. This new production of Maltby and Shire’s Closer Than Ever just about gets there, though it occasionally struggles to break through the digital form.
The promotional blurb promises to “delve into the trials and tribulations of modern love”, a rather bold claim given some of these songs date as far back as 1983. But to their credit, musically they freshen up well under Nick Barstow’s assured musical direction. And many matters of the heart are timeless, so there isn’t too much staleness around subject or lyrical content, sexy secretaries aside.
What works well is a crack cast of four: West End stars Kerry Ellis, Lee Mead and Grace Mouat joined by X-Factor winner Dalton Harris (who I saw as a highly impressive guest at Mead’s summer Palladium concert). The interpretative skills at hand means that quality moments are never far away, even that secretary gets a fair crack of the whip as Kerry Ellis wrestles some dignity out of ‘Miss Byrd’.
So credit to director and musical stager Stacey Haynes and co-director Richard Maltby Jnr himself, who wisely leave the songs to speak for themselves. That said, there’s no denying that it is awful easy to check out without that narrative thread to keep you rapt in the progression of the work but in this digital day and age, the beauty of streaming means that you can pick and choose just how much you consume in any one go.