Losing my mind over Losing My Mind – 10 top interpretations of the Sondheim classic

“Sometimes I stand in the middle of the floor”

With the National’s highly anticipated production of Follies (Dominic Cooke directing a cast of 37 and an orchestra of 21, lest you forget) about to start previews in a week’s time, I thought I’d listen to about a hundred different versions of perhaps its most famous song – ‘Losing My Mind’ – and try and decide on a top ten, with the assumption of course that whatever Imelda Staunton will do with the song will be completely, utterly, life-changingly extraordinary (no pressure Meldz).

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Cast announced for Bonnie and Clyde

 Part of The Other Palace’s rebranding has been to establish it as an incubator for new musical theatre pieces and so it has been opening its doors for work-in-progress performances of shows like Heathers and Joybubbles. 

And in a couple of weeks we get Bonnie and Clyde – music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black and a book by Ivan Menchell – which flopped on Broadway despite the best attempts of stars Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan. And rather excitingly, for this production, we get the talents of Evelyn Hoskins and Jamie Muscato in the leading roles. Continue reading “Cast announced for Bonnie and Clyde”

Round-up of summer album reviews

To cover the holiday period, you may have noticed an album review or three – here’s a round-up of them, including my top ten.

Recommended titles
Close To You – Bacharach Reimagined (2016 Original London Cast Recording)
Hamilton (2015 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Kelli O’Hara – Always 
Leslie Odom Jr – Leslie Odom Jr 
Matt Doyle – Uncontrolled
Samantha Barks – Samantha Barks
Thérèse Raquin (2014 Original London Cast Recording)
The Last Five Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The Scottsboro Boys (2014 Original London Cast Recording)
Waitress (Original Broadway Cast Recording)


And the rest!
Alison Jiear – Inspirational
Allegro (2009 First Complete Recording)
An American Victory (2016 Concept Album)
Annie (1995 London Studio Cast Recording)
Annie (2014 Film Cast)
Bad Girls (2007 Original London Cast)
Billy Porter – At The Corner of Broadway and Soul
Billy Porter – Billy’s Back On Broadway
Brian Stokes Mitchell – Simply Broadway
Bright Star (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Bring It On: The Musical (2012 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Caroline Sheen – Raise the Curtain 
Cheyenne Jackson – I’m Blue, Skies
Cheyenne Jackson – Renaissance
Cool Rider (Original Studio Recording)
Departure Lounge (Original London Cast Recording)
Elf the Musical (2015 Original London Cast Recording)
From Here To Eternity (2014 Live Cast Recording)
Funny Girl (2016 London Cast Recording)
Ghost The Musical (Original London Cast Recording)
In The Heights (2008 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Jane Krakowski – The Laziest Gal in Town
John Owen-Jones – Unmasked 
Kimberley Walsh – Centre Stage
Kinky Boots (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Kristin Chenoweth – Coming Home 
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (2014 Cast Recording)
Lord of the Rings (2008 Original London Cast Recording)
Louise Dearman – Here Comes The Sun 
Louise Dearman – You and I 
Love Birds (Original Edinburgh Cast Recording)
Mamma Mia (Original Cast Recording 1999)
Mrs Henderson Presents (Original London Cast Recording)
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
Oliver Tompsett –Sentimental Heart
Our First Mistake – The Songs of Kerrigan and Lowdermilk
Out Of Context: The Songs Of Michael Patrick Walker
Patti LuPone – Far Away Places
Patti LuPone – Matters of the Heart
Prodigy (Original Cast Recording)
Promises, Promises (2010 New Broadway Cast Recording)
Rebecca Caine – Leading Ladies 
Renée Elise Goldsberry – Beautiful EP 
Richard Beadle – Songs 
Ruthie Henshall – The Ruthie Henshall Album
Sally Ann Triplett – Anything Goes
She Loves Me (1994 London Cast Recording)
She Loves Me (2016 Broadway Cast Recording)
Stephen Ward (2013 Original Cast Recording)
Shuffle Along, Or…
The Bodyguard – The Musical (World Premiere Cast Recording)
The Color Purple (2006 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
The Color Purple (2015 Broadway Revival Cast Recording)
The Fix (1997 Original London Cast)
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (2012 New Broadway Cast Recording)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012 Broadway Cast Recording)
Thirteen Stories Down – The Songs of Jonathan Reid Gealt
Tony Yazbeck – The Floor Above Me
Tuck Everlasting (2016 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2011 Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2015 Original London Cast Recording)
Xanadu (2007 Original Broadway Cast)

Album Review: The Last Five Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2015)

“Yes he’s insane, but look what he can do”

No word of a lie, it’s extremely difficult to listen to the soundtrack of 2015’s movie adaptation of The Last Five Years without being utterly seduced by the personas of its stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and their hugely empathetic performances. I really enjoyed the film, not least because it managed to take a show I already knew and loved and spin it, just ever so slightly, into fresh and new.

Jason Robert Brown’s musical is a two-hander about a single relationship told from two perspectives – we get Jamie’s viewpoint in chronological order and we get Cathy’s in reverse, their narratives only connecting at one crucial moment in the middle. Stage productions thus often have the couple not interacting at all, save for that one scene but where the film excelled was in expanding their world to allow not just more people, but each other into their storylines. Continue reading “Album Review: The Last Five Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2015)”

10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2015

The inevitable end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances will be soon be coming (I just have to, you know, stop seeing shows…) but something I did last year which I really enjoyed was a compendium of “top moments in a theatre”, the breath-taking, show-stopping aspects of productions that have etched themselves in my mind over the past year.  Continue reading “10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2015”

CD Review: Scott Alan Live

“And there it is…”
 
For a composer who hasn’t had a major show on over here, Scott Alan inspires an amazing amount of evangelical joy from his fans. This has come from a series of albums and concerts in which his songwriting has been showcased by a wide-ranging collection of Broadway and West End stars, culminating in a rapturously received residency at the St James Theatre a couple of months ago. I like his work, having previously reviewed a couple of his albums, but I haven’t been as ecstatic as some about it so I thought I’d go back to the ones I hadn’t listened to. 
 
His double album Live offers reworkings of many of his songs and mixes things up further by retaining many of his frequent collaborators but letting them loose on different songs, even switching up genders on some of them. It’s a great move – Natalie Weiss smashes the joyful ‘I’m A Star’, Laura Osnes wraps her delicate voice beautifully around ‘Now’ and Jeremy Jordan is charming as ever on ‘Please Don’t Let Me Go’ and that’s all in the opening five songs. The slightly indulgent length of the album means we don’t always maintain such intense quality over both discs plus bonus tracks.

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Film Review: The Last Five Years

“I don’t know how anybody survives in this life without someone like you”

I’ve actually been sitting on this review since November, when I was lucky enough to attend a screening of New York love story  The Last Five Years at the Prince Charles Cinema thanks to What’s On Stage. We weren’t told to strictly observe an embargo but rather asked to wait before writing about it until the film’s release in the UK. Now it came out in the USA on Friday and as per the below tweet from Jason Robert Brown, the writer of the original show on which the film is based, we could be waiting a wee while before we even get a release date here. Which is a shame, as Richard LaGravenese’s filmic adaptation of this almost entirely sung-through tale deserves a fair crack of the whip, especially as it could have ridden on the over-exposed musical theatre coat-tails of Into the Woods into our cinemas.

 

I have asked. I have not gotten answers. It’s above my pay grade. Hopefully soon! RT @JemmaAnderson: when exactly is TL5Y coming out in UK?
— Jason Robert Brown (@MrJasonRBrown) February 13, 2015

 

Anyhow, the conceit of the story is that novelist Jamie and actress Cathy’s relationship is played out from two perspectives concurrently – at the beginning we see Jamie in the full flush of new romance with the headily seductive ‘Shiksa Goddess’ but Cathy’s first song is the exquisitely bitter pain of ‘Still Hurting’, five years down the line when they’ve split up. Each then gives us their side of the story but moving in opposite directions in time, enhancing the bittersweet beauty of a love that just ought to be. Onstage it means there’s only one point in the show, their marriage at the midpoint, where the two actors co-exist in the same scene but what’s fascinating about the film is that in fleshing out both accounts, they’re both utterly present and interactive throughout the whole thing, and it works. Continue reading “Film Review: The Last Five Years”

Album Review: Where The Sky Ends –The Songs of Michael Mott

“So I dare to dream”

Where The Sky Ends is the debut album from US composer and lyricist Michael Mott which makes for one of the better songbook collections that have been released this year. 11 original songs (and a brief interlude) are featured here which have been selected from shows he has written like Faustus and Mob Wife and also from his back catalogue of standalone songs which cover a wide range of styles. And as ever, a fascinating group of performers have been gathered to give voice to this music. 

What shines through in this collection, especially in the first half, is the sheer diversity of Mott’s writing. The chart-friendly pop of Justin Guarini’s ‘Just Like Me’ switches into Zachary Levi’s ‘The Left Side of the Moon’ which could easily pass as a Rat Pack standard; the slinky supperclub vibe of Sierra Boggess’ ‘The Devil’ with its fantastic brass accompaniment flips into the Donna Summer-esque Don’t Stop Dancin’ which recalls nothing so much as the soundtrack to an 80s gay bar! Continue reading “Album Review: Where The Sky Ends –The Songs of Michael Mott”

Album Review: Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 BELOW

“Years of dreams just can’t be wrong” 

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have enjoyed a prolific writing career stretching over three decades and in celebration of their 30 year working relationship, held a series of concerts at 54 Below which have now been immortalised on their double CD Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 BELOW. The collection looks back at the past, to shows like Ragtime and Seussical but also keeps an eye on the present – their Rocky the Musical is currently playing on Broadway – and the future with forthcoming show Little Dancer being showcased.

With so much material to choose from both in terms of an extensive back catalogue and multiple concert performances thereof, it is perhaps unsurprising that Ahrens and Flaherty opted for the double CD format which allows them to feature well over 30 of their songs, sung by a great array of talented artists. But it also means that it becomes quite the hefty beast, am album aimed at fans rather than the casual listener, something emphasised by the inclusion of spoken interludes from the writers and singers introducing their songs.  Continue reading “Album Review: Nice Fighting You: A 30th Anniversary Celebration Live at 54 BELOW”