CD Review: Witches of Eastwick (Original London Cast Recording)

“Waiting for the music to begin”

Throughout this whirlwind tour of cast recordings, one of the more interesting things has been listening to shows that closed early, or at least relatively so. The Witches of Eastwick managed a 15 month run in 2000-1 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and then the Prince of Wales in a slightly revised version and I have to say that on the evidence of this original London cast recording, it deserved more.

Dana P Rowe’s score and John Dempsey’s lyrics captures much of the small-town mania of John Updike’s source novel and performed by a crack cast as it is here, it is often thrilling to listen to. Ian McShane may have been cast as the devilish Darryl but it is Joanna Riding, Maria Friedman and Lucie Arnaz as the titular triumvirate whose innate powers are unleashed by the nefarious influence of this charismatic stranger, with troubling results for both themselves and those around them – the harmonies that accompany their joint numbers are just scintillating. Continue reading “CD Review: Witches of Eastwick (Original London Cast Recording)”

CD Review: It’s Just The Beginning – The Songs of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds

“I’m a girl of few words
And I don’t make a fuss 
But there’s something I’d like to discuss” 

As with too many good musical theatre writers, transatlantic partnership Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds may not be the best known, but their work deserves a wider recognition as evidenced on their CD It’s Just The Beginning – The Songs of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds. British musician Miller and New York lyricist Hammonds have something of an old-fashioned soul, their songs very much part of the long tradition of musical theatre rather than a genre-busting radical new approach and as such, represent an interesting future alongside the Jason Robert Browns of the world.

To musical theatre aficionados, some of this music won’t be unfamiliar. When Midnight Strikes was performed at the Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre last year and is well represented here (the emotive ‘Never Learned To Type’ is probably the highlight, the divine Caroline O’Connor wistfully breaking our hearts with a beautiful vocal. And Julie Atherton’s debut album A Girl of Few Words showcased 12 of their songs, two of which are reprised here – the wonderfully striking title track and the powerful duet ‘Someone Find Me’ with good pal Paul Spicer. Continue reading “CD Review: It’s Just The Beginning – The Songs of Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds”

Review: Blood Brothers, Phoenix

“Tell me it’s not true, Say I only dreamed it, And morning will come soon”

Full disclosure: I love this musical lots. Lots and lots. It’s one of the earliest musicals I remember seeing and I had a copy of the soundtrack taped onto an orange cassette which accompanied many a family car journey. That said, I hadn’t actually seen Blood Brothers for quite a few years since even just thinking about ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ brings a tear to my eye, so when the slightly surprising announcement that Melanie Chisholm, formerly of the Spice Girls was taking up the lead role, I decided it was time to revisit this stalwart of the West End.
Written by Willy Russell, this musical pits nature versus nurture in the story of two two non-identical twin brothers, Mickey and Eddie, who are separated at birth due to the financial difficulties of their mother and end up following completely different lives. Adopted by the mother’s well-off employer Mrs Lyons, Eddie becomes an Oxbridge-educated success whilst Mickey languishes on the breadline, struggling to maintain employment and to stay out of jail, yet their unexpected friendship manages to survive. However, when they both fall in love with the same girl, it proves to be a strain too far. Continue reading “Review: Blood Brothers, Phoenix”