Tag Archives: Danielle Steers

In Pieces

★★½

Online via stream.theatre

In Pieces

In Pieces

Online via Stream.theatre

Reviewed – 21st April 2021

★★½

 

“the songs are so samey that it takes away any sort of specificity or distinction from the show’s voice”

 

Song cycles often have a sense of purity about them. Unrestrained by trivialities such as plot or character arcs, they’re a platform for composers, lyricists, and performers to put their talents centre stage with a diverse range of songs framed around a loose connective theme. It’s a compelling and proven format, and can launch careers if done well – see Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World, for example. In Pieces, however, doesn’t quite manage to hit the mark.

Assembled from songs by Joey Contreras and directed by Louis Rayneau, In Pieces is a musical film from Future Spotlight Productions, focusing on the pieces that make up the love lives of eight unconnected New Yorkers (and their dance ensemble). The songs explore typical romantic moments such as crushes, first kisses, and wistful run-ins with ex-partners using the pop-heavy anthemic musical theatre style that Pasek & Paul have dominated new musicals with through the likes of Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. Unfortunately, In Pieces suffers from all of Contreras’ songs sounding like this.

With every song being so similar in style, length, and subject matter, it causes the show to tonally flatline and brings the pace down to a crawl. Contreras’ music is certainly easy on the ear, but there are only so many ballads on wanting to be loved you can hear in a row. There are some standouts, however: Jordan Luke Gage brings some earthy angst with This is Not Me, Beccy Lane delivers poignant storytelling with Another New York Love Story, and Hiba Elchikhe and Luke Street ratchet up the tempo with I Could Fall. The opening and closing songs, which feature the whole cast, give the opportunity for some absolutely gorgeous harmonies and make you wish there were more group numbers outside of those bookends. All the cast are on top form vocally, particularly Kyle Birch, who constantly impresses without ever coming off as showy.

There’s also some great choreography on offer from Rachel Sargent, especially in numbers such as First Sign of Forever where it’s utilised for some really sweet storytelling. Other times, the use of the dance ensemble feels underthought, or neglected by the cinematography. The filming took place in Kidzania, a child-scaled indoor city in London, presumably to try to evoke New York, but it unfortunately makes the set look somewhat tacky and amateurish.

It’s clear that In Pieces was made with the best intentions: everyone commits 100% to the material, and it’s great to see the unabashed queer representation and celebration on display. However, the songs are so samey that it takes away any sort of specificity or distinction from the show’s voice, and as a result In Pieces struggles to engage.

 

 

Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Liz Heinrichs

 


In Pieces

Online via stream.theatre until 26th April

 

Reviewed by Ethan this year:
Shook | ★★★★★ | Online | February 2021

 

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First Date

First Date

★★★

Online

First Date

First Date

Online stream from Crazy Coqs

Reviewed – 22nd October 2020

★★★

 

“the memorable songs and the impressive performances carry this funny and relatable take on the dating world”

 

The year is 2020, a pandemic has turned singletons everywhere horny (sound familiar?), and the musical ’First Date’ is here to find out if we can still believe in love!

In the Crazy Coqs bar we meet Aaron (Simon Lipkin) and Casey (Samantha Barks) on a blind date and setting eyes on each other for the first time. Queue a series of fantastically funny songs alighting on all the truisms of first dates from the friend you have lined up to fake an accident to the awkward pauses and who pays the cheque at the end of it all! The pair navigate small talk and their differences, to see whether this could be something. Our two daters are surrounded by a fantastic chorus who pop-up Grecian-esque as bartenders, exes, bad boys and even Google embodied!

The songs, written by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, are consistently brilliant. There are cabaret numbers, comedy numbers, ballads, duets and a lovely five-person opening. Accompanied by a live piano, the songs are well-written, well-sung and all great fun! The script (Austin Winsberg) between songs, however, is not up to the standard of the song writing at all. Whilst there’s some promise in there, it is overly long and slow, and needs some serious tightening up to meet the quality which is so evident in the lyric writing.

The cast are really strong, directed by Dean Johnson. They all boast fantastic voices, brought together with musical direction from John Winstone. Barks and Lipkin sing wonderfully, working hard on a slow script, although lacking in chemistry between them. Some favourite characters in the panopoly that the chorus play include Nick McLean’s Reggie and Danielle Steers’ dead grandma! The shining star of the whole show is Oscar Conlon-Morrey who is irresistibly funny in every role he plays: a feast to watch, even when he is just making comments during the internal (a lovely touch). I could’ve watch him all day.

Unfortunately the quality of the music and performers is let down by the audio (Matt Ide) and videography (Sam Diaz) quality, both of which are wildly inconsistent, so much so that they are disruptive to the piece*. The green screen backdrops are really fun and work really well, but in the space itself the lighting is bizarre and doesn’t respond to lighting changes mentioned in the script, silence buzzes, and it would be impossible to watch this through without regularly adjusting the volume up and down on your television or laptop. Given that it is presented like a film, it needs to have the basic production values of one. It is such a shame, given the quality of the actors and the material.

Production quality aside, the memorable songs and the impressive performances carry this funny and relatable take on the dating world.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography courtesy Lambert Jackson

 

* This show was reviewed on an advance link so sound and video quality may be improved on the released production

 


First Date

Online stream from Crazy Coqs

 

Last ten shows reviewed by Amelia:
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | The Bunker | October 2019
Before I Was A Bear | ★★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half) | ★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
My White Best Friend And Even More Letters Best Left Unsaid | ★★★★ | The Bunker | November 2019
Potted Panto | ★★★★ | Southwark Playhouse | December 2019
The Girl With Glitter in Her Eye | ★★½ | The Bunker | January 2020
Essence | ★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
Flights | ★★★½ | Omnibus Theatre | February 2020
Maliphantworks3 | ★★★★★ | The Coronet Theatre | February 2020
Globaleyes | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020

 

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