Album Review: John-Victor – Shoot…Bang!

“Turn your bedroom into a nightclub”

Somewhat ironically, just last week I inferred that it’s a much more diverse prospect to collate a lyricist’s work, as opposed to to a composer, into a cohesive album whilst reviewing wordsmith Lesley Ross’ new CD. But turning to one of Ross’ musical collaborators on that disc – John-Victor – I’ve immediately been proven wrong with Shoot…Bang! This is new musical theatre writing as you’ve rarely heard it, genuinely original and fiercely contemporary and yes, hugely wide-ranging in its content.

Pulling together excerpts from four of his musicals in various stages of development (some with Perfect Pitch) War and Fleece and Barry the Penguin (a black and white Christmas) written with Lesley Ross, and Carla Cthulu and Chick with Paul Roberts, what instantly strikes you is the immediacy of the music. It’s club tunes, it’s pop songs, it’s radio hits, all fed through with an essential thread of musical theatre but emerging with the kind of freshness that is, well, so refreshing to hear. It is clear to see why pop bands have called him in to help co-write hits for them but the prospect of hearing this music in fully-fleshed out shows in theatres is a hugely exciting prospect for the future. Continue reading “Album Review: John-Victor – Shoot…Bang!”

Review: The Witches of Eastwick, Watermill Theatre

“If I said that I would listen, might that ease the doubt?”

A theatre I hadn’t been to before and a musical I hadn’t heard before – the offer to go and see the Watermill’s adaptation of the 2000 West End show The Witches of Eastwick seemed like a no-brainer. But though I am glad to be able to tick both of those boxes, I have to admit to being rather disappointed with the show and such disillusionment is only magnified when one has made a not inconsiderable effort to go out of town to see a show. As with many of the productions at this venue, it is an actor-musician led revival, directed here by Craig Revel-Horwood and so one is habitually left in awe at the amount of talent being displayed on this cramped stage, I’m just not convinced that this musical is worth it.

Written by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe from John Updike’s novel of the same name, the story focuses on three New England women unhappy with their lot in life who get swept up into the influence of newcomer Darryl Van Horne, whose demonically charming ways transform all their lives as he seduces them one by one. But though it may be better the devil you know, the changes he wreaks threaten to go too far and it proves no easy task to put this particular genie back into the bottle. Tom Rogers’ set design works wonders in such an intimate space, not least with a well-executed flying scene, too many aspects of the production felt problematic to me.  Continue reading “Review: The Witches of Eastwick, Watermill Theatre”

Not-a-review: Thérèse Raquin, Finborough Theatre

The Finborough’s Vibrant festival has been running for 3 years now, offering an opportunity to catch pieces of new writing and works-in-progress from the vast number of playwrights with some connection to the West London theatre. I’ve attended a few of these readings in the past and am loving the fact that I will soon have the opportunity to see a full production of one of them early next year as Mike Bartlett’s Bull makes its bow up in Sheffield.

Catching my eye this year though was the chance to see a musical version of Thérèse Raquin with music by Craig Adams and book and lyrics by Nona Shepphard. We were treated to the first half in its entirety and remarkably, a cast of 13 gathered to give full voice to this intriguingly pitched musical which lies, in the astute words of my companion for the evening, ‘between Les Mis and Sunday in the Park with George”. Continue reading “Not-a-review: Thérèse Raquin, Finborough Theatre”