Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight Stephen Schwartz

The Theatre Channel returns with Episode Eight, a special devoted to Stephen Schwartz featuring Alice Fearn, Louise Dearman, Melanie La Barrie and more

“Just when i thought my heart was finally numb”

With impeccable timing, The Theatre Channel has produced a new episode, its eighth in total, which this time focuses on the work of Stephen Schwartz. The show continues to spread its wings geographically, this time heavily featuring the Park Theatre who are co-producers on this episode, but in a number from Working – Alice Fearn’s ‘It’s An Art’ – the cafe is front and centre which feels like a neat nod to its origins at The Theatre Cafe.

Schwartz himself features throughout, able to provide fascinating snippets of info about the material, both old and new. Having recently played the Charing Cross Theatre over the summer, the cast of 1972’s Pippin sing ‘Magic to Do’, but we also get to hear a vibrant duet from 2016’s Magic Flute-inspired Schikaneder, ‘Dream Big’ sung gloriously by Stewart Clarke and Christine Allado.

And new director Fabian Aloise makes his mark well – I particularly loved the unblinking Pride of Jo Eaton-Kent’s sensitive take on Wicked’s ‘I’m Not That Girl’. He also brings his choreographical skills to bear in an uplifting and wide-ranging routine for the Godspell medley which features the superb Melanie La Barrie knocking it out of the (literal) park with ‘Beautiful City’. Louise Dearman also takes her moment to shine with the soaring ‘Meadowlark’.

The highlight comes with the finale of The Prince of Egypt’s ‘When You Believe’, but presented in a way you might not expect. The song is often delivered with huge amounts of bombast but here it is stripped to piano and the Cafe Five ensemble, allowing delicate harmonies and nuanced emotion to come through in an utterly gorgeous way. It may have been born of lockdown, but if The Theatre Channel continues to provide high quality, accessible musical theatre content like this, you can’t see why it wouldn’t continue doing just that.

Running time: 75 minutes
Photos: Edward Johnson
The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight is booking here

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