“We are worth your shillings”
Marking the first major concert presentation of the show in over 20 years, The Hired Man in concert saw Howard Goodall and Melvyn Bragg’s 1984 musical take over the elegant surroundings of Cadogan Hall, for a glorious evening celebrating one of the all-time greats of British musical theatre writing. With a boutique orchestra conducted by Andrew Linnie, an ensemble of over 20 singers and a lead cast of bona fide West End and Broadway stars, it was a powerfully effective treatment of the material.
The Hired Man is based on Bragg’s 1969 novel, part of his Cumbrian Trilogy, following the lives of labourer and miner John Tallentire and his wife Emily as they battle first the hardship of agricultural life in a fast-industrialising world and then the impact of the First World War on their whole community. And supporting it, Goodall’s music and lyrics draws on English folk tradition, as well as his own melodious style, to create a soulful, stirring score that lingers long in the mind with its hummability and heartbreak. Continue reading “Review: The Hired Man in concert, Cadogan Hall”
“Send us a pineapple for the wedding breakfast”
What was the last lie you told? How much was at stake and did you even think of the consequences? Such are the questions being raised at Briarwood Hall in Sir Charles Worrall’s talk on the study of lies and lying to which we’re all invited. And to illustrate his thesis and to break up the Greek philosophy, he’s employed his staff to act out musical scenes of a notable scandal of the 1820s in which his family was involved. So begins Phil Willmott and Mark Collins’ new musical Princess Caraboo in an amusing and inventive manner, which entertains right until the last porky pie has been told.
Based on real events, the Princess Caraboo was a woman who claimed to have been shipwrecked on the English shore and taken in by some well-meaning sorts in the Worralls, was able to inveigle her way into the heights of Regency society. But by highlighting this deception from the start, Willmott’s book is more concerned with the way in which such lies take hold and are promulgated by societal convention and the need to maintain a facade of propriety. It adds up to an effective and affecting piece of storytelling and reaffirms the Finborough’s commitment to supporting British musical theatre. Continue reading “Review: Princess Caraboo, Finborough Theatre”