Review: Kings of Broadway 2020

Jule Styne, Jerry Herman & Stephen Sondheim get a worthy lockdown tribute in Kings of Broadway 2020

“Knock-knock! Is anybody there?”

There certainly was a whole lot of people there as the online concert of Kings of Broadway 2020 in support of NHS Charities Together and Acting for Others brought a large dose of classic musical theatre back into our lives. Expertly marshaled by musical director and pianist Alex Parker, the choice to spotlight Black Lives Matter through a recital of Maya Angelou’s ‘And Still I Rise’ was a good one, even if it showed the relative caucasity of the main line up. Continue reading “Review: Kings of Broadway 2020”

Review: Road Show, Union Theatre

“Carelessness and being free of care,
Aren’t they the same?”

Since its inception in 1999, Stephen Sondheim’s Road Show – with book by John Weidman – has undergone considerable rehabilitation, not least three title changes, and so has rarely been seen on this side of the Atlantic. John Doyle transferred his Off-Broadway production to the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2011 for its European premiere but this is the first UK revival since then, director Phil Willmott continuing a mini-residency at the Union after last month’s fine Fear and Misery of the Third Reich

But where the episodic nature of Brecht’s storytelling worked well, Road Show is less successful in stringing together its vignettes of chasing the American Dream into something more affectingly substantial. The show follows the contrasting but always connected lives of brothers Wilson and Addison Meisner (per the programme) as they seek to parlay guts and gumption into something more, taking unsuspecting benefactors, love interests and easy marks along for the ride. Continue reading “Review: Road Show, Union Theatre”

Review: On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Union Theatre

“How it will astound you…”

Alongside the rightly lauded all-male Gilbert and Sullivans, the Union Theatre in Southwark has also carved a niche for itself in mounting productions of lesser-known musicals, delving into the archives much as the Finborough does with British plays, in search of a gem of a discovery, ripe for re-polishing. It’s a brave approach, not least because there is an argument that shows that collect dust on the shelves do so for a reason which in turn means that no matter how strong the production, it’s never quite starting on a full tank.

Which seems a little harsh now I’ve said it, but ultimately reflects much of how I feel about the Union’s output of late. Their productions are great value for money, demonstrate a hard-won understanding of how to use the intimate space of their railway arch, and attract a remarkable calibre of performer. But the shows haven’t made my heart sing, filled me with the inescapable joie de vivre that I crave when I see old-school musical theatre and that’s how I felt about On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. Continue reading “Review: On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Union Theatre”

Finalists of 2011 Stephen Sondheim Society Student Performer of the Year

Claire Chambers (Central School of Speech and Drama)
Sarah O’Connor (CPA Studios)
Craig Rhys Barlow (GSA)
Katie Bernstein (LIPA)
Taron Egerton (RADA)
Jennifer Logan (RADA)
Hannah Blake (Royal Academy of Music) 
Dom Hodson (Royal Academy of Music)
Kim Anderson (Stella Mann College of Performing Arts)
Howard Jenkins (Arden School of Theatre, Manchester)
Sam Hallion (Musical Theatre Academy)
Bronte Tadman (Oxford School of Drama)

Host: Haydn Gwynne
Judges: Edward Seckerson (Chair), Kerry Ellis, Julia McKenzie, Timothy Sheader, Sarah Travis and Anna Francolini