For over 9 years between them, they brought down the chandelier at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End playing the lead role in Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s The Phantom Of the Opera. Now, in the wake of the greatest crisis their industry has ever faced, Earl Carpenter and John Owen-Jones have found a way of taking down the barriers to enjoying a night out at the theatre- by going open air.
The two ex-Phantoms have combined to developed an innovative new production Voices Of The West End that will bring the magic of the musicals live to audiences once again- in a new, safe way at 4 wonderful venues around the United Kingdom,
Broadlands, supported by www.mayflower.org.uk
Stonor Park, supported by www.atgtickets.com
Bywell Hall, supported by www.theatreroyal.co.uk
British Motor Museum, supported by www.birminghamhippodrome.com
3-metre square, roped off picnic pitches will ensure lovers of live performance can again enjoy four of the West End’s finest voices perform with live musicians in a safe environment. Continue reading “News: Voices Of The West End to tour UK outside venues”
Les Misérables – The Staged Concert is released on digital download, along with a bonus featurette which is highly amusing
“Minutes into hours, and the hours into years”
Striding over the barricades to alleviate lockdown tedium, Les Misérables – The Staged Concert has now been released on digital download. The release will raise funds for performers, musicians and the NHS as well as incurring additional donations (an extra £5 for every purchase) from The Mackintosh Foundation which will go to the charity Acting for Others, the Musicians Union Coronavirus Hardship Fund and Captain Tom Moore’s Walk for the NHS fund
You can actually watch Bringing It Home – A Les Miz Stay at Home Special below but I thought I’d give you fair warning as it has its pros and cons. Continue reading “Lockdown review: Les Misérables – The Staged Concert”
Lots to catch up on so here’s a quick round-up of some upcoming concerts and events that could well be worth your time
If you’re looking for the more social side of things to go along with your theatregoing, then have a look here. Getgo Club is like a book club for theatre. Each month they take members to amazing London theatre & host a pre-show mingle, followed by a post-show discussion. The event is curated and hosted by working artists who will ensure that discussions take place in a safe, fun, & open environment. Members also receive extra goodies such as discounts on tickets & drinks. All for £5!
Getgo Club is a great way to join a community of arts lovers, and head to a variety of theatre as a group. It has and The first meet-up is at the end of February and I hear they have very limited spaces left so why not find out more here or even just apply directly for a membership here. Continue reading “February news round-up”
“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”
“You can never go back to before”
Mother may spend a song telling us that we can never go ‘Back To Before’ but fortunately you can go back to Ragtime with no fear. And in a post-election climate, it can’t help but feel even more charged as the USA finds itself at a(nother) momentous point in its history. You can read my original review here and if anything, Thom Southerland’s production has gotten even better as the actor-musicians feel even more confident and comfortable.
Leading performances from Jennifer Saayeng and Ako Mitchell, Earl Carpenter and Anita Louise Combe, and Gary Tushaw remain powerful as ever. But on second viewing I enjoyed watching ensemble members and just how damn hard they’re working – Kate Robson-Stuart, Christopher Dickins and James Mack particularly standing out for me… If you’ve not seen the show yet, there’s a trailer below for your delectation but move quickly, there’s less than a month less of the run. Continue reading “Re-review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre”
“And say to those who blame us for the way we chose to fight
That sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white.”
It’s impossible to watch Ragtime right now without marvelling at its relevance to the current US presidential election campaign and the lessons that were right there for Donald Trump and his team to learn. For in many ways, the show – written by Ahrens and Flaherty with book by Terrence McNally from EL Doctorow’s novel – is about the development of the modern American nation and identifies three key groups instrumental in that societal change in women, African-Americans and immigrant communities, the very people Trump has done his damnedest to alienate.
Politics aside, what’s more significant is the magical touch that director Thom Southerland seems to have when it comes to reconceiving musicals, as his actor-musician production here at the Charing Cross Theatre is an extraordinary success. Keeping most of his 24-strong company onstage throughout amplifies the overarching humanity of its storytelling, reminding us that these are all of our stories regardless of whichever group we ‘belong’. Combined with the expert musicality onstage and an ingenious design from Tom Rogers and Toots Butcher, it’s an irresistible adaptation that shouldn’t be missed. Continue reading “Review: Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre”
“Waiting for the music to begin”
Throughout this whirlwind tour of cast recordings, one of the more interesting things has been listening to shows that closed early, or at least relatively so. The Witches of Eastwick managed a 15 month run in 2000-1 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and then the Prince of Wales in a slightly revised version and I have to say that on the evidence of this original London cast recording, it deserved more.
Dana P Rowe’s score and John Dempsey’s lyrics captures much of the small-town mania of John Updike’s source novel and performed by a crack cast as it is here, it is often thrilling to listen to. Ian McShane may have been cast as the devilish Darryl but it is Joanna Riding, Maria Friedman and Lucie Arnaz as the titular triumvirate whose innate powers are unleashed by the nefarious influence of this charismatic stranger, with troubling results for both themselves and those around them – the harmonies that accompany their joint numbers are just scintillating. Continue reading “Album Review: Witches of Eastwick (Original London Cast Recording)”
“We had such hopes…”
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, The Phantom of the Opera decamped to the Royal Albert Hall for 3 performances, the highlights of which were spliced together to give a full CD/DVD release package which contains as full a rendering of the entire score as it currently available. Maybe it was a rush job though as the sound quality on this CD really isn’t good enough for it to be genuinely recommendable, even for a live recording.
I also had mixed feelings about the production itself. I just can’t get on with Sierra Boggess’ voice, her soprano voice always erring to the too shrill for my liking and the vibrato she employs has all the subtlety of a jackhammer. Christine isn’t the strongest-written of roles at the best of times and Boggess just feels too emotionally vapid to be the inspiration of such all-conquering adoration as she is served with in this story. Continue reading “Album Review: The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall”
“Every moment’s one to treasure”
Composers who put together albums of their songs, especially if they are up and coming talent who haven’t necessarily had a breakthrough show yet, are often in something of a bind. Do you go for as diverse a selection of your material as you can find or do you concentrate on showcasing your strengths – both approaches have their merits and their disadvantages and I don’t personally think there is any easy, or right answer. Act One – Songs from the musicals of Alexander S Bermange is probably closer to the latter option and sure enough, it has its strengths and its weaknesses.
Bermange has quite a list of credits to his name but has arguably yet to really mark his mark on the London scene. I only really became aware of him recently when his show Thirteen Days had a small run as part of this year’s Arcola’s Grimeborn Festival. As a musical treatment of the Cuban missile crisis, it was a work of mixed qualities, not always entirely successful but one which equally showed intriguing promise, not least in the firmly old-school manner of rousing song-writing. And that is what comes across most clearly in this collection, which bypasses the post-Sondheim school to cleave closer to the likes of Schwartz and balladeer. Oh, and it features a simply sensational cast of sheer quality. Continue reading “Album Review: Act One – Songs from the musicals of Alexander S Bermange”