Tag Archives: Danny Kaan

Unlimited: The Songs Of Stephen Schwartz

★★★★

Online via Thespie

Unlimited: The Songs Of Stephen Schwartz

Unlimited: The Songs Of Stephen Schwartz

Online via Thespie

Reviewed – 13th December 2020

★★★★

 

“All nine performers deliver fantastic performances that are a testament to their infectious love of musical theatre.”

 

The concert begins with Stephen Schwartz himself, singing at a piano. He introduces this evening of his songs, and says how much he misses live theatre. This sets the tone for an hour that is a true ode to theatre and to musical theatre more specifically. The cast sing songs from across his canon of musicals, duets, trios and solos. Each performer has been part of the Wicked cast at some point over the years it has run. The songs are interspersed by moments where the cast interview each other, reminiscing about favourite roles and songs to sing, and sharing what the theatre means to them.

In a wonderfully grand venue, eight of them sit socially distanced with pianist and Musical Director Nick Barstow sitting behind a grand piano, ready to accompany them! It is such a joy to see so many fantastic singers and performers together. I mean this both in the sense of seeing them sing together, the soaring duets and powerful trios. But also in the sense of seeing them sit together, watching each other perform, supporting and appreciating each other. Community is something that comes up as a theme in the interviews and this feels like a visual representation of the community that theatre offers and creates.

The videography and editing by Jake Waby and Christian Abad for JW Productions is an example of how to produce digital content right. Sarah Sendell’s sound design is equally strong and we are able to enjoy the strength of all these singers in perfect quality.

The concert begins with a trio from the musical ‘Pippin’, and Alexia Khadime sings the first solo number of the evening – a stunning rendition of ‘I Guess I’ll Miss the Man’. Alice Fearn and Liam Tamne come together to sing a beautiful duet from ‘Pocahontas’, and their ranges compliment each other flawlessly.

Dianne Pilkington sings a compelling solo, and Melanie La Barrie’s performance from the bar is wonderful. ‘For Good’ from Wicked is an emotional end to the concert, sung by Nikki Bentley, Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Alexia Khadime and Dianne Pilkington.

All nine performers deliver fantastic performances that are a testament to their infectious love of musical theatre.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Aimie Atkinson 

 


Unlimited: The Songs Of Stephen Schwartz

Online via Thespie

 

Recently reviewed by Amelia:
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
First Date | ★★★ | Online | October 2020
A Christmas Carol | ★★★★ | Watermill Theatre Newbury | December 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

The Pirates of Penzance

★★★★★

Palace Theatre

The Pirates of Penzance

The Pirates of Penzance

Palace Theatre

Reviewed – 12th December 2020

★★★★★

 

“in true buccaneering style, the company have grabbed the opportunity to plunder the West End”

 

It is worth remembering what a lasting impact the nineteenth century impresario, Richard D’Oyly Carte, had on London’s theatreland. Having brought Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert together he built the Savoy Theatre in order to stage their works. Later, in an attempt to establish more serious opera, Carte built the Royal English Opera House; which is now known as the Palace Theatre. Although it staged Arthur Sullivan’s “Ivanhoe”, none of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas ever made it onto the grand stage.

Until now.

Sasha Regan’s all male “Pirates of Penzance” has enjoyed success for a decade now in the UK and Australia, its journey briefly interrupted by the pandemic. But in true buccaneering style, the company have grabbed the opportunity to plunder the West End, while many theatres are still sleeping, and seize the accolade of presenting the first Gilbert and Sullivan work to play in D’Oyly Carte’s purpose-built theatre. And it deserves it.

The company don’t take the stage by storm. Instead, they use the weapons of wit, joy, irreverence, humour and harmony. It is perhaps one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most accessible comic operas, containing some of Sullivan’s most recognised music. Gilbert’s libretto has a simplicity and clarity which matches Regan’s staging. What will lodge in the memory for a long time is how the production transports you to a bygone era. The space is vast, even by West End standards, but the cast fill it completely with a stripped back set, one piano, a bunch of finely tuned singers, and not a single microphone between them. Nothing is forced either. Musical Director Richard Baker’s piano notes and arpeggios float across the auditorium carrying the voices with them to the far corners of the theatre. Lizzi Gee’s superb choreography may have been devised with smaller spaces in mind, but the physicality of the ensemble make no apologies and they pull it off.

Set during Queen Victoria’s reign on the coast of Cornwall, the story concerns the dutiful and soft-hearted Frederic who, having reached his twenty-first year has been released from his apprenticeship to a band of equally benevolent pirates. He promptly falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of the very model of a modern Major-General. Yet he soon learns that he was born on the twenty-ninth of February, so only has a birthday every four years. Which makes him only five years old, meaning he has another sixty years to serve. What ensues is a gorgeous romp through the themes of courage, duty and honour.

Alan Richardson, as Mabel, stuns us with his soaring falsetto. But it is unfair to single him out, the entire ensemble is pitch perfect, from bass through to soprano. It is credit to the cast that at no point does it really occur to us that we are watching men dressed as women. There is plenty of chest and facial hair on view, but such are the nuances, mannerisms and finesse of the cast, we are convinced. This is not high camp; it is not drag; it is character acting at its finest. Tom Senior’s Frederic is just as convincing, and you believe in the chemistry between the actors. Leon Craig’s hapless nurse, Ruth, is a master of comedy, vying for the laughs with David McKechnie’s Major-General. The accolades, though, belong to the entire team and given space they would all receive a special mention.

The continued success of the all-male “Pirates of Penzance” is undoubtedly on dry land; and this stunning production feels completely at home in the West End. Yes, maybe it might not have made it there in normal times (though I like to think it would), but we can certainly hoist the flag to celebrate one of the most delightful, innovative, funny and musically rich interpretations of Gilbert and Sullivan.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Danny Kaan

 


The Pirates of Penzance

Palace Theatre until 13th December

 

Recently reviewed by Jonathan:
What a Carve Up! | ★★★★★ | Online | October 2020
Falling Stars | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Marry me a Little | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Rent | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Right Left With Heels | ★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Ute Lemper: Rendezvous With Marlene | ★★★★★ | Online | November 2020
Salon | ★★★ | Century Club | December 2020
The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk | ★★★★ | Online | December 2020
The Dumb Waiter | ★★★★ | Hampstead Theatre | December 2020
The Elf Who Was Scared of Christmas | ★★★★ | Charing Cross Theatre | December 2020

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews