TV Review: The Split Series 1 / The Good Fight Series 2

If female-fronted lawyer shows are your bag (and why wouldn’t they be!), the twin joys of The Split and The Good Fight have marvellous to behold

“Kill all the lawyers”

If I’m completely honest, Abi Morgan’s The Split did leave me a tad disappointed as it veered away from its legal beginnings to something considerably more soapy over its six episodes. The personal lives of the Defoe clan well and truly took over at the expense of any of the cases they were looking after and even if that family includes Nicola Walker, Annabel Scholey and Deborah Findlay, it’s still a bit of a shame that it ended up so schlocky. Continue reading “TV Review: The Split Series 1 / The Good Fight Series 2”

Round-up of August music reviews

 

 

Though I might not have been away for my usual month-long sojourn to France, I kept up with a glut of album reviews to cover the (relatively) quiet period for those of us who don’t put themselves through Edinburgh 😉

Recommended titles
Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs – Live at the Cafe Carlyle
Before After (2016 Studio Cast Recording)
Cabaret (2006 London Cast Recording)
Finding Neverland (2015 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Salad Days (2013 Live London Cast Recording)
The Bridges of Madison County (2014 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
The Hired Man (2007 UK Tour Cast)
The Last Ship (2014 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
The Visit (2015 original Broadway Cast Recording)
War Paint (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

And the rest!
9 to 5 (2009 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Anastacia (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Annaleigh Ashford – Lost in the Stars
Ben Forster – Acoustic Covers 
Ben Forster – Acoustic Covers, Vol. 2
Betty Buckley – Quintessence
Big the Musical (2016 Original UK Cast Recording)
Bombay Dreams (2002 Original London Cast Recording)
Bumblescratch (2016 London Concert Cast Recording)
Carousel (1993 London Cast Recording)
Chicago (1997 London Cast Recording)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2002 Original Cast Recording)
Comrade Rockstar (2017 Studio Cast Recording)
Crazy For You – (1993 Original London Cast Recording)
Dirty Dancing (2006 London Cast Recording)
Fame (1995 Original London Cast Recording)
Gavin Creel – Get Out
Gavin Creel – Goodtimenation
Gavin Creel – Quiet  / Oliver Tompsett – Gravity
Groundhog Day (2017 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Half A Sixpence (2016 London Cast Recording)
Helena Blackman – The Sound of Rodgers and Hammerstein
Laura Benanti – In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention
Love Never Dies (2010 Concept Album)
Marguerite (2008 Original London Cast Recording)
Marin Mazzie – Make Your Own Kind of Music
Mary Poppins (2005 Original London Cast Recording)
Memphis (2014 Original London Cast Recording)
Noel Sullivan – Here I Go Again
On The Town (2014 New Broadway Cast Recording)
Shona White – I’ll Bring You A Song
Songs From The Musical Wolfboy (2010)
Take Flight (2007 Original Cast Recording)
The Halcyon (Original Music From The 2017 TV Series)
The Route To Happiness (2014 Original Cast Recording)
The Sound of Music (2006 London Palladium Cast Recording)
The Woman In White (2004 Original London Cast Recording)
USHERS: The Front Of House Musical (2014 London Cast Recording)

Album Review: The Last Ship (2014 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“For what are we men without a ship to complete?”

The logic of theatre being what it is, an original musical by Sting about the decline of the shipbuilding industry in the north-east of England opened on Broadway in 2014 and has still yet to be seen here in the UK. I saw it at the Neil Simon Theatre and whilst The Last Ship didn’t have the strongest book, I did think the brooding melancholy of the folk-inflected score would carry it further than the four months it managed.

Its primary delight is Rachel Tucker’s Meg, a dynamic vocal presence who can’t help but stand out in everything she sings, whether the delicacy of ‘August Winds’, the tearjerking ‘It’s Not The Same Moon’, or the bawdy fun of ‘If You Ever See Me Talking to a Sailor’. Along with the excellent Michael Esper (now familiar to us in the UK thanks to Lazarus and The Glass Menagerie), she makes a real highlight out of ‘When We Dance’ (a re-purposed track from Sting’s back catalogue). Continue reading “Album Review: The Last Ship (2014 Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Review: The Last Ship, Neil Simon Theatre

“And when you become a woman of a certain age

You’ll find it’s difficult to trust a man” 

The signs for The Last Ship were not good even before I boarded – Sting stepping into a key role to shore up ticket sales over Christmas – and just days after I saw it, the producers decided to cut their losses and it posted closing notices for the end of the month. Indeed, this review comes too late to even persuade a last few people to visit as Saturday saw the final performance. And whilst I’d love to be able to say that it is a huge loss to the Broadway stage, to me it really didn’t feel like the complete package.

First things first – Sting’s score is genuinely excellent, binding together influences like Celtic folk and sea shanties to the more standard driving anthems and heartfelt balladry that one might expect from a big musical. Real emotion and a strong sense of character come flooding out of songs like ‘Autumn Winds’, the title song and ‘If You Ever See Me Talking To A Sailor’ and it is little surprise that the soundtrack made a strong concept album when released in 2013. Continue reading “Review: The Last Ship, Neil Simon Theatre”

CD Review: A Little Night Music (NT vs Broadway Revival Cast recordings)

“Isn’t it bliss? Don’t you approve?”

I always assume that people know where the name of this blog came from but for those that don’t, it is a lyrical reference from Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Which gives a seamless segue into this post about two cast recordings of the show – the first from the 1995 National Theatre production and the second from the 2010 Broadway revival. The first is most notable for capturing one of the greatest moments in musical theatre, possibly even theatre full stop.

Judi Dench’s extraordinary rendition of ‘Send in the Clowns’ may be close to becoming a party trick (if there’s a gala, she’ll be there) but it truly is a remarkable thing. The cracks in her voice are a perfect match for the ageing star that is Desirée and the speak-singing style allows her to act the hell out of the song – the way in which she sighs ‘weeeellllll’ near the end is just spine-tingling. 4 minutes 23 of pure perfection.   Continue reading “CD Review: A Little Night Music (NT vs Broadway Revival Cast recordings)”

Review: Sondheim’s Company in the cinema

“When a person’s personality is personable, he should not sit like a lump”

With the amount of theatre I see, I rarely go to the cinema these days – my Cineworld card collected dust for a quite a few months before I admitted defeat and cancelled it – so when I received an invitation to a press screening of a film, I was amused and intrigued by the novelty of the idea. Of course, it wasn’t that much of a stretch in the end because the film was a recording of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company from last year’s Lincoln Centre (Center?) production in New York featuring Neil Patrick Harris and a cast of luminaries including Patti LuPone (who inspired possibly the greatest YouTube video ever), Martha Plimpton (her from the Goonies all grown up) and Anika Noni Rose (the one from Dreamgirls who wasn’t Beyoncé or who won an Oscar).

I have to admit I was initially a little wary about going to see this: my relationship with Sondheim took a bit of a battering in the deluge of productions that celebrated his anniversary year and it was only really with the utterly fabulous Sheffield Crucible production of Company at the end of last year that the pieces all finally clicked together for me and I could hand on heart for the first time say that I absolutely loved a Sondheim show. But I have gotten much better at managing expectations for shows, especially in relation to other productions of the same, and this was an opportunity to see a whole bunch of performers, whom I like but may never get to see, live on a big screen. And you’ll get the chance when the show screens for one night only on Thursday 15th March at 7pm – the list of cinemas is available here. Continue reading “Review: Sondheim’s Company in the cinema”

CD Review: Tim Prottey-Jones – More With Every Line

“I know who you are and I know why you’re here”

On the face of it, Tim Prottey-Jones’ debut album More With Every Line ought to have been a no-questions-asked slam-dunk of a success with me, following on from other new musical theatre writers with star-studded line-ups on their albums – Michael Bruce and Lance Horne springing immediately to mind. Yet something about it didn’t quite work for me and after repeated listens, it still hasn’t emerged as an album that I am particularly fond of.

Prottey-Jones is a young composer, a drummer and guitarist as well as a singer, and this album is made up of songs taken from two musicals that are currently in development with his co-librettist and lyricist Robert Gould – After the Turn and Once Bitten. And it is these two points between them that I think are shaping my opinion. The music is largely pop/rock which really just isn’t my thing at all and as these are shows in development, this is music which hasn’t necessarily been much exposed to the rigours of external ears. Continue reading “CD Review: Tim Prottey-Jones – More With Every Line”