It’s been so bleak of late! So I got some friends together to spread a message of hope…
‘WE’LL BE BACK!’
— Oscar Conlon-Morrey (@Oscar_C_M_) October 21, 2020
23 West End actresses who have played Elphaba or Glinda in Wicked have reunited to perform a stunning rendition of the show’s ‘For Good’ to support the Make a Difference Trust Covid 19 Emergency Appeal Fund to support those in the theatre community suffering hardship because of the coronavirus crisis.
Please consider donating either by texting “SUPPORT” to 70111 to donate £5 (UK ONLY) or donate any amount here
Only Fools and Horses was never going to be my thing but there’s no denying how much fun this rendition of the theme tune is. Maybe I should go back to Peckham when I can…
“She screamed, I think – it was hard to hear”
Surrounded by the Sounds – the music of Tim Prottey-Jones is the second of actor/writer Prottey-Jones’ albums featuring a whole array of his West End pals, but the third that I’ve reviewed (see reviews of More With Every Line and To Do. To Be.) It features songs from two of Prottey-Jones musicals – Once Bitten and After The Turn – and has a decidedly more pronounced rock feel to it than either of his other collections.
As such, it didn’t quite tickle my fancy in the way that I might have liked, especially since To Do. To Be. had impressed me. And it’s not that this is a collection of bad songs, they’re just not my cup of tea. Such guitars, much rock, so not wow. Even when the tempo slows a little into ballad territory, as with Michael Xavier’s ‘Chance In A Lifetime’ or Jodie Jacobs’ ‘Colour Me’, it is still just too monotonely guitar-heavy for my liking.
“When the playbill’s gone and your ego’s died, how you gonna feel”
I’m of course naturally inclined towards composing duo Dan & Laura Curtis as the quote that is proudly blazoned across their website is one of mine. It came from my review of their collection Love on 42nd Street which was a pocket-sized treat which stands in real contrast to Overture – The Music of Daniel and Laura Curtis, which brings together well over 20 Broadway and West End stars to fill a double-album’s worth of new material.
And their grandly orchestral ambition (not for nothing is the album called Overture) is well realised here. Divided into two ‘acts’, the pair stretch their songwriting muscle over a range of genres and subject matters but they’re most comfortable, and effective, when turning their hand to stirring string-laden balladry. The simple elegance of Rachel John’s ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ epitomises this beautifully with its soaring grace, surely a cabaret standard in the making. Continue reading “Album Review: Dan & Laura Curtis – Overture”
“All relationships rearrange”
In some ways, you can see why Vanities: the Musical has taken its time to make its way over the ocean since its 2008 premiere. Based on a 1976 play by Jack Heifner which follows the friendship of three young women from Texas over ten years – and for its time, a daring look at the changing role of women in society – Heifner’s book for the musical extends the story to a fourth act and by at least another decade, but it is unevenly plotted and rather superficial.
The beauty of Racky Plews’ production for Aria Entertainment though is that it takes all of this in its stride and in some pitch-perfect casting in the form of Lizzy Connolly, Ashleigh Gray and Lauren Samuels, imbues the material with a real sense of heart. So as Joanne, Kathy and Mary move from high school to college, to the personal and professional lives that they dreamed of and by which they are taken by surprise, we’re totally drawn in by their performances. Continue reading “Review: Vanities – The Musical, Trafalgar Studios 2”
“Don’t get sore when you lose tonight”
Cult status is a funny thing, depending on which side of the coin you fall, it can either rescue diamonds in the rough or just further expose them. For me, Cool Rider comes down heavily on the latter though it must be said, there’s plenty who would argue the former, not least those who contributed over £12 grand to the Kickstarter to get this recording made. Hey, it’s their money right?!
Cool Rider is perhaps better known as the stage adaptation of ill-fated film sequel Grease 2. Staged in a concert version in 2014, the popularity of which saw it return for a week of performances at the Duchess Theatre, the fans are clearly there but quite for what, I couldn’t really say. The plot is little more than an retread of the original but with the roles reversed but the main problem lies in an inconsistent and uninspired score. Continue reading “Album Review: Cool Rider (Original Studio Recording 2015)”
“It’s like a rollercoaster”
Oliver Tompsett is currently rolling his dice 8 times a week in Guys and Dolls but across his career, he’s also stretched his singer-songwriter muscle, releasing a self-produced album called Sentimental Heart back in 2007. Containing 12 songs written by him, including a duet with Ashleigh Gray, it’s an impressively diverse album which incorporates a wide range of influences along its central pop-rock axis.
Opening with the relaxed funk of the title track then quickly moving to the upbeat vibe of ‘Femme Fatale’ establishes the general mood of uplifting fun – it’s impossible not to bop your head along to the infectious chorus of ‘Come On Back’ and the brassy musicality of ‘Rollercoaster’ feels like it could easily fit in with any of the songs in The Commitments. Continue reading “Album Review: Oliver Tompsett –Sentimental Heart (2007)”
Best Cast Recording
Bend It Like Beckham (Original London Cast Recording)
Cool Rider (Original Studio Recording)
Gypsy (2015 London Cast Recording)
Made in Dagenham (Original London Cast Recording)
Memphis the Musical (Original London Cast Recording)
“You sure put on a show”
One of the joys of cabaret concerts is the sheer range and diversity of material that they can pick from to best reflect the personalities and voices of performers, or to suit an overarching theme for their programme. Divas Unsung managed to work both these aspects into their Sunday evening gig at the Leicester Square Theatre, shining a light on some lesser known comedy numbers, empowerment anthems and showstoppers from musical theatre shows that have mostly slipped under the radar in the West End or on Broadway.
Of course, aficionados of the genre may score higher recognition points than your regular punter and the active fringe musical scene means some are less obscure than they might have been: Stephen Schwartz’s The Baker’s Wife, Jonathan Larson’s tick…tick…BOOM! and Kander and Ebb’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman have all been seen in London relatively recently, though one would hard-pressed to find noted flops like Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Lestat or Michael Gore’s Carrie anywhere. Continue reading “Review: Divas Unsung, Leicester Square Theatre”