Album Review: Comrade Rockstar (2017 Studio Cast Recording)

“Just call me the Soviet cowboy”

Try as I might, the words ‘rock musical’ can’t help but give me a little shiver of discontent, such is my preference for piano and strings over an electric guitar. But I do try and test my preconceptions (Lizzie probably being the last time I proved myself wrong!) and so I sat down to listen to recent SimG release – Comrade Rockstar, a new musical with book & lyrics by Julian Woolford and music by Richard John.

It’s based on the properly fascinating tale of Dean Reed, an American singer known as the Soviet Elvis after he defected to the other side of the Iron Curtain at the height of the Cold War. And sure enough, it is much more musically varied than the moniker ‘rock musical’ might suggest, stretching its wings far past any connotations of solely Elvis-lite content too, to create a gently beguiling musical that you can certainly visualise on a stage somewhere near you soon. Continue reading “Album Review: Comrade Rockstar (2017 Studio Cast Recording)”

Album Review: The Woman In White (2004 Original London Cast Recording)

“There’s only one thing one has to have
One has to have no shame”

Hitting the West End just before I moved to London and well before I started blogging, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White has the ignominy of being one of his less successful shows. With lyricist David Zippel and book-writer Charlotte Jones, this adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ novel failed to capture the ongoing attention of UK audiences, shuttering after 19 months, but downright flopped on Broadway where it lasted just 3. 

The Woman In White has now been announced as Thom Southerland’s major project over Christmas, running for 12 weeks at the Charing Cross Theatre with Laura Pitt-Pulford onboard, and it got me to thinking that I hadn’t actually ever listened to the show at all. The cast recording was made on the opening night and as the show underwent considerable redevelopment even whilst playing, the ending on this record does not reflect the ending that audiences saw in theatres. Continue reading “Album Review: The Woman In White (2004 Original London Cast Recording)”

DVD Review: South Pacific (2001)

“You can’t fix an egg when it ain’t quite good”

It’s funny where the gaps are for someone who was brought up on many a musical – I was obsessed with the film version of The Pirates of Penzance and so was nearly word-perfect on it from a small age, yet I never once saw or listened to South Pacific. Indeed, the first and only time I’ve seen it was from the gods at the Barbican back in 2011, an experience that did not leave me rushing to explore the show further. So it was with a little interest that I put on this 2001 TV film version, directed by Richard Pearce and executively produced by, among others, Glenn Close, who also took on the role of Nellie Forbush. 

And as I have so little connection to the musical, it’s been hugely fascinating to read just how up in arms some people got about the choices made in this version of South Pacific, showing how easy it is to swept up in expectation and emotion when talking about shows that you love and particularly, the way that they ‘should’ be done. So some were up in arms about Close being too old to play Nellie, others concerned about Rade Šerbedžija not being an operatic singer for Emile, songs being cut and rearranged sent many into apoplectic fits, and the rejigging of some of the supporting characters was the final straw for yet more. Continue reading “DVD Review: South Pacific (2001)”

CD Review: Evita 2006 London Cast Recording

 “Just a little touch of star quality” 

 
I haven’t done many reviews of soundtracks to shows since starting to cover CDs on here, focusing more new writing and solo albums from MT performers, but I don’t know why not as I listen to them just as much. The first I’ll cover will be the OLCR of the 2006 revival of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Evita, a production which revitalised this stalwart of a show in a way that I didn’t think possible and introduced me, and the rest of London’s theatregoers, to the glories of Argentinean star performer Elena Roger.

 The soundtrack, edited highlights rather than the full score, captures much of what made that production so vibrant so that it doesn’t really matter that we don’t have any of the striking visuals and choreography that accompanied this Latin American infused remounting. The orchestrations have been totally refreshed in line with this re-envisioning and with Roger’s singing leading the company, there’s just a greater sense of authenticity about the whole shebang. Continue reading “CD Review: Evita 2006 London Cast Recording”

Review: Tomorrow Morning, Landor Theatre

“Sometimes you’ve got to take hold of your life”

First shown at the New End Theatre in 2006, Tomorrow Morning is a new contemporary musical from British writer Laurence Mark Wythe which is now playing at the Landor Theatre in Clapham. It had a successful run in Chicago in 2008 which saw quite a few changes being introduced so this is a welcome opportunity to see this charming show in its new incarnation with a superb cast. I took advantage of the half-price preview offer so this is a review of a preview performance from 16th October.

Wythe wrote the music, lyrics and book to this four-hander which follows two couples on the eve of life-changing events. One, Kat and John, are bundles of nerves, stressing out about their impending marriage and their life ahead; the other, John and Catherine, are older, more world-weary as they prepare to sign their divorce papers. Contrasting the headiness of young love and new beginnings with the realities of maintaining a marriage, the show offers a thoughtful, universal look into relationships with some genuinely appealing characters and some moving revelations. Continue reading “Review: Tomorrow Morning, Landor Theatre”

Review: Evita, Adelphi

I was adamant that I didn’t want to see this production of Evita for so long and I am not really sure why. But having announced its closure and with some good ticket deals floating around, I finally took the plunge and boy, was I wrong. Central to this revival of the 1978 Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice collaboration was the casting of the Argentinean Elena Roger to take on the title role of this rags to riches story of the second wife of Argentinean president Juan Perón, Eva Duarte, whose controversial rise to power captured the hearts of some, thoroughly alienated others but ensured her a lasting legacy as one of the most colourful political leaders.

From the opening number, I could feel something exciting happening, a certain energy on the stage, which then exploded in a joyous version of ‘Buenos Aires’ filled with ecstatic singing, tight Latin-inspired choreography and I just loved it, I was ready for giving a standing ovation from then on! The incorporation of a real Latin American feel into both the music and choreography gives the show a real injection of authenticity which lifts it into the stratosphere. Continue reading “Review: Evita, Adelphi”