Did I like this?
I think not.
Did I like this?
I think not.
“Lock the door and stop complaining
Gather ’round and listen well”
Between them, Amber Riley, Beverley Knight and Cassidy Janson have racked up Olivier Awards and accolades aplenty and their mutual respect has led to them joining forces to create musical supergroup Leading Ladies. And working with producers Brian Rawling and Paul Meehan through East West Records (Warner), their debut album Songs From The Stage is about to be released.
Across the 14 tracks of the collection, there’s a variety of approaches as they tackle songs from a wide range of musicals. Each singer gets a couple of solo numbers, and they all chip in with backing vocals on some of those, but the highlights come when the trio sing together. And none more so than on an utterly transcendent version of Carole King’s ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ whose close harmonies are goosebump-inducingly extraordinary, the marriage of their voices a perfect alchemy. Continue reading “Album Review: Leading Ladies – Songs From The Stage”
“Livin’ for the moment’s rewards”
I did like Nadim Naaman’s first album We All Want The Same but with its compositions stretching over a decade of Naaman’s songwriting, it didn’t quite have the cohesion to show off his emerging talents. For his second CD though, he’s gone all-out to demonstrate the depths of both sides to him as a musician – opting for a double-length album, half the songs are musical theatre numbers which have received his own spin, and the other half are original songs written over the last year. Thus Sides reaches with larger ambition, and succeeds.
“I planned a well-rendered, one-gendered lesbian love story”
You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with Andrew Lippa, whose work is being celebrated at the Menier Chocolate Factory with a vivacious show that cherry-picks from his career so far. Although born in Leeds, his successes have been over the Atlantic with shows like The Addams Family, Big Fish and The Wild Party which have helped him to build a considerable, if niche, audience. With the help of some classy West End friends though, this sparkling revue could well encourage a further groundswell of popular support in the UK and get Lippa’s work produced here more often.
In the meantime, the concert format works well here with The Life of the Party. Lippa is a born raconteur and from his piano, he is a hugely entertaining presence full of gossipy tidbits but more importantly, brimming with enthusiasm for the world of musical theatre and his continued place in it. Talking about the songs and shows that have made up his oeuvre, there is no mistaking his sheer love for what he does and that brings something extraordinary to the material, an intensity that might not even been matched when the songs are being performed in their natural context within the shows. Continue reading “Review: Life of the Party, Menier Chocolate Factory”
“I really don’t think you have anything to worry about Charlie Brown”
Out in West London, the Tabard is a theatre that hasn’t really managed to work its way into my regular theatregoing: I’ve enjoyed things there, last Christmas’ Just So in particular, but it’s always been a bit on the wrong side of town for me to merit multiple trips, the nature of fringe theatre being essentially so variable. But an interesting looking cast for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown meant that I made the trip to Turnham Green once more. A musical comedy based on the famous Peanuts comedy strip, this is a revised version of the show by Clark Gesner, with additional songs and dialogue from Michael Mayer and Andrew Lippa and in another factor that convinced me to go, is directed by Anthony Drewe.
Perhaps unsurprisingly it wasn’t a particularly intellectually demanding show but then neither could it easily be dismissed as froth. There’s a wry charm to the way in which these stories of young children growing up and all their trials and tribulations are sweetly portrayed, a knowing innocence is probably the best way to describe it and wrapped in a fair deal of fun and silly songs. And in securing a rather top-notch cast, the sometimes slight material is given more of a dramatic weight that lifts the production from just being funny to an intimate delight.
Whether it’s Hayley Gallivan’s philosophically intense Sally, Adam Ellis’ blanket-obsessed Linus with a great line in childlike sarcasm or Leanne Jones’ beltingly brash Lucy, the cast give it their all throughout. And Mark Anderson’s lovable Snoopy is really rather special. Add in Nick Winston’s sharp choreography and Elliot Davis’ tight band, both working extremely well in the limited space. It worked well as a show for both those who know the comic (my companion) and those who do not (yours truly) and though it disappeared gossamer-like into the ether as soon as we’d left the theatre, sometimes what you want is candy-floss.
Running time: 2 hours (with interval)
Booking until 30th October