A Spoonful of Sherman
Live at Zedel, Crazy Coqs
Reviewed – 9th August 2017
“… an unashamed nostalgia-fest”
As its title makes clear, the August offering at the Crazy Coqs is an unashamed nostalgia-fest. A Spoonful of Sherman: The Songbook of Your Childhood references that most famous of all dictums from the nation’s favourite nanny, and, as you would expect, sugary treats from Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Winnie the Pooh, The Jungle Book and Bedknobs and Broomsticks are liberally scattered throughout the marathon 39 song programme.
The Shermans truly are a songwriting dynasty, and we are guided through the evening by Robert J. Sherman, who gives us a whistle-stop biographical tour as a punctuation to the music. Robert is a songwriter himself, who clearly takes enormous pride in his extraordinary family history. He is a genial host – a little on the diffident side – and his evident pleasure at sharing the music of his grandfather, and his father and uncle, is charming, as is his obvious delight at hearing the suite of his own songs, which appear towards the end of the evening. This reviewer could have done without the sentimental underscore, and some of the weightier bits of biographical info seemed ill-matched to the occasion, but, in general, this somewhat old-fashioned format suited both the material and the venue.
The evening did lack a bit of sparkle however, and this could have been addressed by trimming the programme. Both Helena Blackman and Daniel Boys were in fine voice, but frequently seemed hampered by the lesser material. In addition, Christopher Hamilton, on piano, provided a couple of excellent and much-needed bravura comic cameos, but the zip was then too often lost. I Wanna Be Like You would have been a natural segue from The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers, for example, but instead the pace was brought right down by My Own Home, surely the least inspiring song on The Jungle Book soundtrack. In a similarly odd bit of programming, it seemed deliberately contrary to introduce the wonderful Al Sherman classic, There’s a Harbour of Dreamboats, as a Frank Sinatra favourite, and then give it to Blackman to sing.
These programming peccadilloes are indeed just that, but they do mean that A Spoonful of Sherman remains a perfectly pleasant evening out, rather than being the supercalifragilisticexpialidocius experience it might have been.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
A SPOONFUL OF SHERMAN
is at Live at Zedel, Crazy Coqs until 20th August