Despite great work from supporting players like Audra McDonald and Laura Benanti, The Sound of Music Live isn’t a great advert for The Show Must Go On
“Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her”
In some ways, turning to the series of live TV musicals to continue The Show Must Go On now that Andrew Lloyd Webber has exhausted the content he is willing to give for free, for weekends at a time. The problem is, its opening salvo – The Sound of Music Live from 2013 – really isn’t a good example of the form.
Directed by Rob Ashford and Beth McCarthy-Miller, it has all the requisite component parts and as a piece of live entertainment, it is all very competently done. There’s an impressively capacious set, slick camerawork and a well-drilled ensemble who barely put a foot wrong throughout the 2 hours plus of the show. Continue reading “Review: The Sound of Music Live (The Show Must Go On)”
I tackle a trio of Broadway cast recordings in the shape of Cole Porter’s The New Yorkers, Kiss Me, Kate! and Beetlejuice
“Most gentlemen can’t be profound”
As it only played a handful of performances, the release of Cole Porter’s The New Yorkers (2017 Encores! Cast Recording) is a welcome chance to revisit this rarely seen musical. The recording is certainly aided by the presence of such musical theatre stalwarts as Scarlett Strallen and Tam Mutu (scintillating together on ‘Where Have You Been?’), the revelation for me is jazz singer Cyrille Aimée, who delivers a slinkily devastating rendition of ‘Love for Sale’ that makes it feel like the song was written for her.
Aside from the songs written by Jimmy Durante (his comic stylings at their best on Act 1 closer ‘Wood’ delivered with panache by Kevin Chamberlin), the prevailing aesthetic is one of classic Cole Porter elegance, Rob Berman’s musical direction finding just the right level of sparkling verve to blow off any lingering cobwebs and infuse real life into the material. Ruth Williamson’s witty ‘The Physician’, Mylinda Hull’s just-as-funny ‘The Great Indoors’, Strallen leading the ecstatic finale ‘I Happen to Like New York’…the pleasures here abound.
Sticking with the glorious Cole Porter, and who wouldn’t!, this year has also seen the release of Kiss Me, Kate! (2019 Broadway Cast Recording). It’s a show that I have a little difficulty with, never having seen a production that managed to sufficiently square its period gender dynamics with (my) contemporary sensibilities. But there’s no denying a songbook that contains the likes of ‘Too Darn Hot’, ‘So In Love and ‘Always True To You In My Fashion’.
And when you have the likes of Kelli O’Hara and Will Chase singing them, you’re in the territory of dreamily good. Whether together on the oom-pah-pah of ‘Wunderbar’ or separately on their respective renditions of ‘So in Love’, they’re both exceptionally good and utterly listenable. Also great value for money are ‘B’ couple Stephanie Styles and Corbin Bleu, pulling focus brilliantly wherever they pop up.
And last but not least, even if Mr Porter isn’t involved here, we have Beetlejuice (Original Broadway Cast Recording). From its opening minutes, (“Holy crap! A ballad already?”), it is clear that there’s a properly anarchic spirit at play here and Eddie Perfect’s score, led by a highly charismatic Alex Brightman who clearly is having a ball as he repeatedly breaks through the fourth wall (if there is one when you’re listening…?)
‘The Whole “Being Dead” Thing is a genius opening number, prologue aside, and sets the tone for the Perfect’s pop-rock tunes, several of which feel like they have the potential to earworm their way into your brain (the refrain of ‘Fright of Their Lives is currently stuck in mine). Supported by vibrant work from Kerry Butler and Rob McClure and a cleverly sung performance from Sophia Anne Caruso as the Winona-waif Lydia, if Beetlejuice struggles to find a new home on Broadway then I’ll happily welcome it into the West End!
Gbenga Akinnagbe – To Kill a Mockingbird
Tom Glynn-Carney – The Ferryman
Sophia Anne Caruso – Beetlejuice
Paddy Considine – The Ferryman
James Davis – Oklahoma!
Micaela Diamond – The Cher Show
Bonnie Milligan – Head Over Heels
Simone Missick – Paradise Blue
Jeremy Pope – Choir Boy
Colton Ryan – Girl from the North Country
Stephanie Styles – Kiss Me, Kate
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Fleabag
John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre: Nathan Lane
It’s no secret that I’m a big Ivo van Hove fan, I’ve been to New York and Amsterdam several times to see his work as regular readers will know, so booking for his latest show to hit London – Lazarus– was a no-brainer. At the same time though, I have to say that the music of David Bowie has played little part in my life, so a musical continuing the story of his 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth and based on his songs doesn’t actually carry the same appeal that I might normally have with a van Hove show.
Of course, the shock news of Bowie’s passing as the show opened in New York this past winter lends Lazarus an especial charge, featuring as it does songs from his later albums and songs that were written for this project, among some of the last he ever penned. To an outsider though, it makes for strange experience with a strong sense of mood prevailing over a defined narrative progression, Enda Walsh co-writing a book with Bowie that is labyrinthine in its own fractured, hallucinatory way. Continue reading “Review: Lazarus, King’s Cross”
Outstanding Play The Christians Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group. Written by Lucas Hnath Eclipsed Produced by The Public Theater. Written by Danai Gurira Gloria Produced by Vineyard Theatre. Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins Guards at the Taj Produced by Atlantic Theater Company. Written by Rajiv Joseph John Produced by Signature Theatre. Written by Annie Baker
Outstanding Musical FUTURITY Produced by Soho Rep. and Ars Nova in association with Carole Shorenstein Hays. Music by César Alvarez with The Lisps, Lyrics and Book by César Alvarez Iowa Produced by Playwrights Horizons. Written by Jenny Schwartz, Music by Todd Almond, Lyrics by Todd Almond and Jenny Schwartz Southern Comfort Produced by The Public Theater. Book and Lyrics by Dan Collins, Music by Julianne Wick Davis, Based on the Film by Kate Davis, Conceived for the Stage by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso Tappin’ Thru Life Produced by Leonard Soloway, Bud Martin, Riki Kane Larimer, Jeff Wolk, Phyllis and Buddy Aerenson, Darren P. DeVerna/Jeremiah J. Harris and the Shubert Organization. Written by Maurice Hines The Wildness: Sky-Pony’s Rock Fairy Tale. Produced by Ars Nova in collaboration with The Play Company. Text by Kyle Jarrow & Lauren Worsham, Songs by Kyle Jarrow Continue reading “Nominations for 2016 Lucille Lortel Awards”