CD Review: Act One – Songs from the musicals of Alexander S Bermange

“Every moment’s one to treasure”

Composers who put together albums of their songs, especially if they are up and coming talent who haven’t necessarily had a breakthrough show yet, are often in something of a bind. Do you go for as diverse a selection of your material as you can find or do you concentrate on showcasing your strengths – both approaches have their merits and their disadvantages and I don’t personally think there is any easy, or right answer. Act One – Songs from the musicals of Alexander S Bermange is probably closer to the latter option and sure enough, it has its strengths and its weaknesses.

Bermange has quite a list of credits to his name but has arguably yet to really mark his mark on the London scene. I only really became aware of him recently when his show Thirteen Days had a small run as part of this year’s Arcola’s Grimeborn Festival. As a musical treatment of the Cuban missile crisis, it was a work of mixed qualities, not always entirely successful but one which equally showed intriguing promise, not least in the firmly old-school manner of rousing song-writing. And that is what comes across most clearly in this collection, which bypasses the post-Sondheim school to cleave closer to the likes of Schwartz and balladeer. Oh, and it features a simply sensational cast of sheer quality. Continue reading “CD Review: Act One – Songs from the musicals of Alexander S Bermange”

Review: Miranda Sings and Friends, Leicester Square Theatre

“Haters back off”
One of the things I love about living and theatregoing in London is the sheer range and diversity of opportunity to see things. Sometimes however, there is just too much choice and this month I’ve been presented with a number of dilemmas, the end result of which was us ending up at Miranda Sings and Friends on Thursday night despite having no clue who or what is was all about.
It is the combined fault of Julie Atherton and Daniel Boys, both of whom are performing cabaret shows to feature their albums, Atherton at the Delfont Rooms and Boys at my beloved Wilton’s Music Hall, but one of my birthday presents was tickets to see Swedish pop legend Robyn on the night Daniel Boys is singing and so I booked to see him performing in the reading of Phil Wilmott’s new musical at the Finborough so that I’d get my fix. But that happened to be the same night as Atherton’s show so in order to get my Julie Atherton fix, I found out she was performing at this Miranda Sings thing and so we booked for that. It’s all a bit overly complicated I know, but these are the dilemmas one faces in this city!
And what an unexpected kind of night it turned out to be. Having only the vaguest idea of what Miranda is all about, I couldn’t quite believe the calibre of guests who she persuaded to appear with her, it really was an impressive line-up. A youtube phenomenom created by Colleen Ballinger, Miranda Sings is a character basically ripping the piss out of the plethora of deadly serious but comically bad singers who post videos on youtube. She has managed to parlay this into into a cabaret act and succeeds by getting amazing singers to come sing duets with her and take her advice on how to ‘improve’ their performance. It is essentially one joke stretched rather thin, but the variety of stars singing with her made it highly enjoyable and combined with the fact it was a late night show, it was perfect entertainment alongside the somewhat considerable amount of wine which found itself by our side!
To be honest, much of the evening was a blur and hasn’t really come back to me yet, hence this will be a little (ie a lot) bit of a sketchy review. Fortunately, Julie Atherton did stick in my head with a great It’s A Fine Fine Line with a lovely puppet(!) so it was all worth it and A Whole New World with turban and a guy from Hair, Matt DeAngelis was another number which stood out. Defying Gravity was predictably lots of fun and all in all it was a load of silly fun. I’m not entirely sure I would want to see it sober as as I said mentioned earlier, it is just one joke in the end, but as she would say, haters back off!
Tracklisting as far as we could remember…
All that jazz
Jon Lee – Suddenly Seymour
Scarlet Strallen – Defying Gravity
Ben James Ellis – ?
Noel Sullivan- Summer Nights
Julie Atherton – It’s a Fine Fine Line
Random competition winner, Darren? – Womanizer
Kieron Jae – ?
Matt DiAngelis – A Whole New World
Kerry Winter? – A Queen song
Defying Gravity
oh and a choir

If you were there too, feel free to make any amendments or corrections, it really is quite hazy!

Review: The Hostage, Southwark Playhouse

“I was court-martialed in my absence, and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence”

After having one of the hottest tickets in London in January with The Rivals, the Southwark Playhouse had quite an act to follow and it has done so by reviving Brendan Behan’s play The Hostage, the first new production in the UK for 16 years. Opening with a song and dance routine as The Rivals did not really help to stop comparisons instantly being made, we soon moved onto to both a naked man appearing and characters addressing the audience, both of which have been in incredibly plentiful supply this year already.

Behan’s play is incredibly hard to define: it’s set in a brothel in 1960s Dublin where a young British soldier is being kept hostage by the IRA in reprisal for the planned execution of a young IRA member in a Belfast jail. The hostage is forced to share the space with the resident prostitutes both male and female, their customers, and a random selection of crazy individuals, but finds a connection despite everything with a young innocent housekeeper. It’s comic but tragic, it’s farcical but political: as I said, hard to define! Continue reading “Review: The Hostage, Southwark Playhouse”