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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.

Cast Sherman

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

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A SPOONFUL OF SHERMAN

is at Live at Zedel, Crazy Coqs until 20th August

 

 

Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

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Lorna Dallas

Lorna Dallas – Home Again

Live at Zedel

27th June 2017

 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

“Emotional power and stunning vocal strength”

 
The Crazy Coqs is the perfect space for cabaret. To take your seat at a lamplit table in this beautiful Art Deco space is to step into an intimate performance atmosphere, and as soon as Lorna Dallas came into the room, it was clear that she was indeed ‘Home Again’ after two decades away. Buoyed up by the enthusiasm of a warm crowd, her pleasure at being back on a cabaret stage was palpable, and infectious, and her two opening numbers – ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, segueing into Sondheim’s ‘Back in Business’ – set the tone for the evening. Emotional power, stunning vocal strength and clarity and lots of theatre were there from the outset, and it was clear that, as an audience, we were in safe hands.

Dallas’ musical director, and friend of 29 years, Jason Carr, was at the piano, and together they run a tight ship. The programme zipped along, and Dallas moved deftly between Gershwin, Novello, Jerome Kern and more modern American composers with whom she has worked. In the first half, Gershwin’s ‘Home Blues’ sounded smoky and terrific; Novello’s ‘Waltz of my Heart’ fizzed like a champagne cocktail, and the South Pacific belter ‘Younger than Springtime’, almost exactly half way through the programme, brought the house down.

Lorna Dallas

Stand-outs in the second half were the beautifully poignant ‘Before the Parade Passes By’ from Hello Dolly, and the penultimate song, Novello’s ‘My Life Belongs to You’, which was sung as a thank you to us, the audience, and received a well-deserved standing ovation in return.

Dallas and Carr’s duet, Sondheim’s ‘You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow’ was the only number which didn’t quite work for me, caused simply by Carr’s inability to match Dallas’ vocal strength, but their shared sense of fun papered over the cracks and it seemed churlish not to join the party. In the second half of the show, as Lorna Dallas smiled out at the crowd at the end of a heartfelt rendition of ‘Bill’ from Showboat, an enthusiastic audience member shouted out ‘Still got it!’ And yes, she certainly has.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Darren Bell

 

Live at Zedel

 

Lorna Dallas

performs one more ‘Home Again’ show at Live at Zedel  at The Crazy Coqs on Tuesday July 4th.
 

 

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