Lockdown treat: ‘Mama Who Bore Me’ from the OLC

Some cracking original London cast members reunite for this Spring Awakening track

Heart vector created by starline – www.freepik.com 

Review: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Some seriously big names – David Walliams and Robbie Williams – can’t save the RSC’s new musical The Boy in the Dress at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

“Don’t eat my cheese”

There’s no lacking for big names behind the RSC’s big new musical The Boy in the Dress. Based on the novel by David Walliams and adapted by Mark Ravenhill, and with a score by Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers and Chris Heath, the pedigree is certainly there in this story about Dennis, a young football-crazy boy who decides, one day, that he’d quite like to go to school wearing a dress. But Gregory Doran’s production ends up hitting the crossbar – literally so… – and it is a little difficult to work out exactly why.

Is it in Walliams’ book, where absent mothers get entirely short shrift (as do most women, the character of Darvesh’s mum, who even gets a song, is called…Darvesh’s mum) and notions about celebrating difference only go so far – it’s OK for boys to wear dresses and win football matches, but if you buy a copy of Vogue, then you’re the target for homophobic jokes in the script. Or is it in the score which is full of strangely low-impact numbers, until an Indian man appears – cue the Bollywood song! Or someone puts on a dress – cue the disco number! It can feel that there’s not much sophistication at work here. Continue reading “Review: The Boy in the Dress, Royal Shakespeare Theatre”

Album Review: Sex and the Village

“It’s more village, less sex if I’m honest”

Set in the tiny Dibley-like hamlet of Chatterly which is being threatened by supermarket development, Rebecca Applin and Susannah Pearse’s Sex and the Village is a rather delightful little musical developed by Perfect Pitch and recorded here by a mixture of professional actors and singers from the Bury St Edmunds Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society who won the right to present the premiere of this show which they did in Suffolk in November 2013.

Applin’s music is largely straightforward and sweet in its structure and as such, soprano Charlotte Wakefield’s crystalline clarity is perfect as its lead exponent. As Chloe, the young woman conflicted between a desire to explore the wider world but also to maintain fidelity to her beloved village, she’s wryly amusing in observing the minutiae of ‘Country Life’ and moving in the affecting emotional swirl of ‘They’re Only Dreams’ and ‘The White Elephant Stall’. Continue reading “Album Review: Sex and the Village”

Album Review: A Spoonful of Sherman (Original London Cast Recording)

“It’s a world of wonder
A world of worth”

It’s quite something when the highlight of a show that includes excerpts from such perennial classics as Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Jungle Book ends up being a pair of songs from a film that comparatively few would have heard of – The Slipper and the Rose. But such is the depth of song-writing talent in the three generations of the Sherman family celebrated in A Spoonful of Sugar, the Original London Cast Recording of which has just been released by SimG Records

From famed Tin Pan Alley composer Al Sherman to his sons Robert and Richard who became the most successful song-writing partnership in the history of Hollywood through to Robert’s son Robbie, an established writer in his own right, this revue covers nearly a century of popular song-writing by one family and the astonishing breadth of the musical legacy that they have left, and are still leaving, behind – this cabaret was indeed created by Robbie himself. Continue reading “Album Review: A Spoonful of Sherman (Original London Cast Recording)”

CD Review: Paradise Lost

“If I go to Heaven, my fate is assured” 

Full disclosure first, I was a contributor to the Kickstarter campaign for this studio cast recording of new musical Paradise Lost as attested on this page here (although darn that pesky line break!) I can’t really remember what prompted such benevolence from me, ‘twas just the second thing I have helped to fund in the smallest way but something about this musical treatment of John Milton’s poem clearly caught my attention and with the finished product now in hand, I can clearly see why. 

Lee Ormsby’s music and story and Jonathan Wakeham’s book and lyrics has a self-confessed aim of “epic storytelling” and through a determination to forefront character and bold, accessible music, the 24 tracks that make up this double album offer a tantalising glimpse into what has the potential to be a truly spectacular musical. Bucking contemporary trends somewhat, it looks back to a time of 80s mega-musicals but infuses it with real heart to make a beguiling confection.  Continue reading “CD Review: Paradise Lost”