Review: The Great British Musical, Criterion

“How could this be the ending of our story?”

The Great British Musical was a showcase event at the Criterion Theatre, put together by the production company Perfect Pitch to celebrate British musical theatre both new and old through the performances of a cracking company of West End stars both established and upcoming. It was compered by Stephen Fry, the evening was led by Paul Herbert’s musical direction and supported by young performers from the MTA.

We were treated to songs from shows that are currently open: George Stiles and Anthony Drewe gave us a mini comedy routine before launching into a medley from Betty Blue Eyes including the title song which worked and ‘Nobody’ which I wasn’t too sure about (I’m still longing to hear the promised version by Liza); Steven Webb and Jack Shalloo gave us their ‘Long Sunday Afternoon/That Guy’ from Blood Brothers and Lloyd-Webber was well-represented too, especially by Stuart Matthew Price’s ‘Heaven On Their Minds’ from Jesus Christ Superstar. Continue reading “Review: The Great British Musical, Criterion”

Review: The Kissing-Dance, Jermyn Street

“I concluded from your airs and manners that you were bred in Tufnell Park”

The Kissing-Dance is a Howard Goodall musical with lyrics and book by Charles Hart which is based on the 18th Century Oliver Goldsmith classic comedy She Stoops To Conquer. Set over one long night in Nonesuch, somewhere in the English countryside on All Fools’ Eve, it’s a story of comic misunderstandings as a London suitor is fooled into believing his prospective father-in-law’s house is an inn by the cheeky Tony Lumpkin, causing his intended to test his honour with her own scheme to foil her mother’s plans for her, whilst other secret affairs are revealed, missing family jewels cause consternation and general mayhem ensues until the sun finally rises again.

Following on from the well-received but prematurely-closed Love Story, The Kissing-Dance reveals a slightly more playful side to Goodall’s composing, embracing an English pastoral influence which allied to the wit of much of Hart’s lyrics, makes this really quite a sprightly affair. There are moments that feel almost like Gilbert & Sullivan, especially in the multi-layered finale to Act 1 with its many counterpointed melodies creating a harmonious delight. It wasn’t always so successful though, the title song feeling a little out of place with the rest of the show and not helped by being sung by the servants oddly, a small thing but still a bump in an otherwise smooth ride. Continue reading “Review: The Kissing-Dance, Jermyn Street”

Review: Departure Lounge, Waterloo East Theatre

“We’d like to shag your daughter; that’s what your daughter’s for”

Departure Lounge is a new musical by Dougal Irvine at the Waterloo East Theatre, a new theatre in the already hugely crowded Waterloo area, but it feels like a nice new space. A converted railway arch, the auditorium is a long, relatively narrow room and has the feel of the Old Vic Tunnels working space but with less damp and cold and slightly more comfortable seats. It is a show that has been long in gestation: Perfect Pitch Showcase winner in 2006, it has been workshopped under the name Unzipped!, it has had runs at the Edinburgh Festival and also in New York before arriving here at Waterloo East.

Four eighteen-year-old boys are stuck in Malaga airport after a post-A-levels but pre-results blowout holiday on the Costa del Sol, and whilst killing time they reminisce about the drink-fuelled antics of their week or at least they try to as it seems that they can’t agree on everything. Most of the confusions centres around the character of Sophie, with whom they have all had some kind of contact and through a flashback from each boy, they start to piece together what really happened and secrets start to tumble out in the airport. Continue reading “Review: Departure Lounge, Waterloo East Theatre”