“I’ll be an inspiration
A musical sensation”
The cast recording for USHERS: The Front Of House Musical was released in advance of its 2014 run at the Charing Cross Theatre but ever the trail-blazer ;-), I saw the show a few months before when it played at the then newly inaugurated Hope Theatre. There, its homespun charms won me over, with its tales of drama in the theatre but not the onstage kind, rather it is the Front of House staff in the spotlight here.
Written by Yiannis Koutsakos, James Oban and James Rottger, and simply orchestrated for Lee Freeman on the piano, it is a short and sweet cast recording but one which wisely makes a virtue of it. These aren’t particularly epic songs or grand stories but intimate pieces and personal tales of love and betrayal, audience members and interval ice-creams, and so they suit the smaller focus that they’re given here. Continue reading “Album Review: USHERS: The Front Of House Musical – (2014 Original London Cast Recording)”
“I love the theatre, but I never come late”
In some ways, this tale of the exploitation of unpaid interns working in a theatre could be considered a timely revival looking at the ethics of the industry. But though that is the pretext of Babes in Arms, it is a much more whimsical piece than that – a 1937 Broadway musical from Rodgers and Hart, frothily light in plot but musically superlative in places, brimming with standards like ‘The Lady is a Tramp’, ‘Johnny One Note’ and ‘My Funny Valentine’.
This production uses a revised book from 1959 by George Oppenheimer in which a team of bright young apprentices toil away at a struggling theatre, falling in and out of love with each other at the drop of a hat and secretly rehearsing a musical revue which they hope to put on. It’s undoubtedly a candy-floss ball of a plot but cheerfully and entertainingly staged in David Ball’s production with Sam Cable’s sharp 3-man band and splendidly enlivened by the interjections of Lizzi Gee’s suitcase-wielding and delightfully tap-heavy choreography. Continue reading “Review: Babes in Arms, Union Theatre”
“Seymour sweetheart, tell me darling, what’s been going on?”
Much like the plant at the heart of its story, Little Shop of Horrors has become something of a monster success rising from its Off-Broadway beginnings to cult classic to household name, thanks in no small part to Alan Menken’s sparkling score and Howard Ashman’s sharp lyrics and witty book. A spoof of 50s sci-fi films, it follows shy young Seymour, a florist with a huge crush on his colleague Audrey, trapped in an abusive relationship with a laughing-gas-guzzling dentist. When a mysterious plant lands on his doorstep offering him the solution to his problems in return for food, things seem like they might finally start to look up for this downtrodden couple, but Seymour fails to recognise the Faustian dangers of selling his soul as the plant, Audrey II, gets hungrier and hungrier.
It is silly and fun, but the show has endured due to its gigantic heart, one cannot help but root for this couple grasping at their chance of happiness and thwarted by a renegade flesh-eating vegetable, all to the tune of Motown-inspired ditties. This production at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington, South London has taken the unusual step of pulling together two teams of actors who will alternate performances, the key difference being that the three Ronettes who also double up as Audrey II between them are guys the one night, and girls the next meaning there’s different experiences to be had here from one night to the next. Continue reading “Review: Little Shop of Horrors, White Bear Theatre”