Album Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2019 Studio Cast Recording)

Webborn and Finn’s cracking new musical The Clockmaker’s Daughter receives a delectable Cast Recording treatment that features the likes of Ramin Karimloo, Hannah Waddingham, Christine Allado and Fra Fee

“Come gather round!
Come gather young and old
Tall and small…
Come gather all!”

I was a huge fan of Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn’s musical The Clockmaker’s Daughter when it premiered at the Landor back in 2015, and loved getting to revisit the show when Trinity Laban’s final year students mounted the show a year later. So news of a cast recording was excitedly received in the Clowns household, especially once the company was revealed, featuring the likes of Ramin Karimloo, Hannah Waddingham, Christine Allado and Fra Fee. 

And with those stalwart supporters of new musical theatre Auburn Jam at the helm (Joe Davison producing) and David Ball Productions executive producing, the album sounds like an absolute dream. The show describes itself as “a musical faerytale” and the richness of the score reflects the considerable folk heritage of the British Isles, utilising Celtic influences as it is set in the fictional Irish village of Spindlewood but widening out its focus to produce something joyously universal. Continue reading “Album Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter (2019 Studio Cast Recording)”

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Emilia already looked like one of the top tips of Michelle Terry’s inaugural season at the Globe and with this cast announcement, Nicole Charles’ production fast becomes an absolute must-see!

Nadia Albina will play Lady Katherine 
Anna Andresen will play Mary Sidney 
Shiloh Coke will play Lady Anne Clifford
Leah Harvey will play Emilia 1
Jenni Maitland will play Countess of Kent 
Clare Perkins will play Emilia 3 
Carolyn Pickles will play Lord Henry Carey 
Vinette Robinson will play Emilia 2 
Sophie Russell will play Lord Thomas Howard
Sarah Seggari will play Lady Cordelia 
Sophie Stone will play Lady Margaret Clifford 
Charity Wakefield will play William Shakespeare 
Amanda Wilkin will play Alphonso Lanier

In 1611 Emilia Bassano penned a volume of radical, feminist and subversive poetry. It was also the first published collection of poetry written by a woman in England. Lloyd Malcolm promises to reveal the life of Emilia: poet, mother and feminist from the 10th August. See you there? Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Trinity Laban

“We only have so much time”

I don’t often make it to drama school productions but an invitation to see The Clockmaker’s Daughter at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance was one I found hard to resist. I loved the Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn musical when I saw it premiere at the Landor last year and whilst we wait patiently for a cast recording (I asked Santa again and I have been a good boy this year…), this felt like an ideal opportunity to revisit the show, appropriate too as Webborn is an alumnus of this very institution.
So, The Clockmaker’s Daughter was presented here by Trinity Laban’s final year Musical Theatre students, with two teams of lead performers sharing the four shows and the rest of the company doing them all. And it’s impressive to think that there’s this much talent to share the roles, especially with the quality of Lucy Elson’s confident turn as the titular Constance. Both vocally and acting-wise, she demonstrated an impressive maturity that could well mark her as one to watch in the future.
Set in the old village of Spindlewood, we find Constance is a young woman unlike any of the others, with a fiercely protective father Abraham who, try as he might, can’t stop the outside world from getting close to their secrets. The benefits of having a full graduating class and a nice theatre to play with (especially compared to the intimacy of the Landor’s stage) came into their own with the communal scenes. Choreography from Jenny Arnold enhanced several scenes and waves of choral backing vocals added a gorgeous texture to several songs.
Clever staging from Amy Yardley used found objects most inventively, recalling Harry Potter at one point (I wonder if that was intentional!) and Tony Castro’s band of four impressively reminded me how much I enjoyed Webborn and Finn’s score – the Celtic tinges of Craig Lutton’s percussion standing out though making it something of a shame that Michael Howcroft’s production opted for a generic Northernly-accented feel. 
And performance-wise, I loved the vivacious work from Lori-Jane McLare’s Ma Riley, the kind of broad character you can really get stuck into and she does so with gusto, Elize Layton’s Amelia radiates a lovely decency as does Tom Ramsey’s Will, the boy who it turns out will do anything for love, never better than in his duet with Elson on the shimmering ‘If You Could See My Heart’. Abraham is an enigmatic part that needs careful handling in the depths and darkness of his grief, thus it’s a difficult part for a younger actor but something that will undoubtedly come with experience and I did enjoy the quality of Elliot Coombe’s voice. 
Impressive work then from an impressive company, and a great opportunity to revisit a show that really does deserve wider acclaim and a higher profile.

Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Landor

“They try to figure out what makes her tick”

Described as a musical faerytale, Michael Webborn and Daniel Finn’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter aims to create the feeling of a story from the Brothers Grimm but in actual fact, has come up with an astonishingly assured piece of original musical theatre. Set in the fictional Irish town of Spindlewood, the story delves into the myth behind the statue of a young girl in the town square – a tale of grieving inventor Abraham and of Constance, a girl not like the others, and how she touches the lives of the townspeople around her despite their pettiness and prejudices. 

David Shields’ remarkable design work is some of the best the Landor has ever seen, an all-encompassing vision that properly transforms the theatre and transports the audience to a different, magical, place. Cleverly conceived and carefully constructed, its various pieces work…well…like clockwork. And this ambition is matched in the scope of the writing and the score, combining the epic with the intimate, the emotional with the entertaining, the folkloric with the universal in what emerges as a deeply moving tale. Continue reading “Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Landor”

Review: Romeo & Juliet, Leicester Square Theatre

“I will show myself a tyrant”

This version of Romeo and Juliet moves the action to 1938 when Italy was under Mussolini’s fascist rule. Produced by the Ruby in the Smoke company and taking up residence in the small basement of the Leicester Square Theatre until 11th July, this offers a largely inventive take on the familiar story of the “star-cross’d lovers”. A cast of eight cover the much edited version of events with a reduced number of characters too, there’s a little doubling up but there’s still only 11 characters featured in this production, the main casualties are the parents, only Capulet remains.

The literature around the show talks of the Race Law instituted by Mussolini in 1938, forbidding Italians from marrying Jews, and by making Romeo a son of David, the focus of the show is shifted away from family feuds over to anti-Semitism, Juliet is the daughter of a militant member of the secret police thereby creating the tension that forces the play along. This is a neat reconception, but I’m not 100% sure that it worked or that it was supported by the text: I could see Romeo’s small Jewish necklace as I was near the front, but I rather suspect for some the first indication that he was a Jew would have been towards the end when he put on an overcoat marked with a yellow star. Continue reading “Review: Romeo & Juliet, Leicester Square Theatre”