Tag Archives: Kieran Brown

A Night at the Oscars – 4 Stars

Oscars

A Night at the Oscars

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 16th February 2018

★★★★

“a heartfelt tribute, created and delivered, by a team who believe in the power of music to enrich our lives”

 

With the ninetieth Academy Awards fast approaching, Aria Entertainment is laying on a well-timed celebration of the annual event through song, dance and stories. Charting the ‘Best Song Award’, it is the story of the Golden Age of Hollywood, part celebration and part eulogy: a kind of memento mori to a lost world.

There is so much to cover in one evening that it seems to be an impossible task to undertake, but writer Chris Burgess has a keen sense of balancing the informative with the entertaining. This is not just a shuffle through the pages of the American Songbook, it is also a rapid-fire chronicle (albeit sometimes perfunctory) of America’s social history in the mid twentieth century, and how Hollywood has always mirrored society, rather than vice versa. But let’s not get too bookish; “A Night at the Oscars” is billed as a musical revue, and it is foremost a glorious reminder of the sheer wealth of the songs, composers and craftsmanship that existed in that bygone era.

The four singers have total control over the material. Kieran Brown, Steven Dalziel, Natalie Green and Laura Sillett all effortlessly span the octaves and emotions needed to tackle the likes of Gershwin, Berlin, Porter, Kern, Bernstein (to name just a few) at their best. They each shine individually, but when they are in unison the harmonies are spot on. Accompanied by Musical Director Ben Fergusson on piano, Will Henderson on double bass and Ben Burton on percussion, the combined effect is dynamic and passionate.

There are many highlights, most notably “The Man That Got Away” that closes the first act, and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” which heartbreakingly reminds us of Gershwin’s untimely, early death. Other moments of high emotion, such as the tribute to Charlie Chaplin, are offset by moments of high comedy injected into the well-documented Bette Davis and Joan Crawford feud.

The second act is slightly more fragmentary and we feel that the cast are in a bit of a hurry to reach the end. But in fairness this reflects the changing face of Hollywood. As Hollywood battles with the changing politics and fashions it also has to compete with the legislation that strips if of its monopoly and power. And of course with the birth of television. It is a whole new world, and historically the music suffers too. It is perfectly fitting that the evening’s show ends at 1973. The poignancy of “The Way We Were” rings through the auditorium: an anthem to the sad fact that the traditional ‘Oscars’ song is no more. What happens next is another show entirely.

But for now “A Night at the Oscars” should be enjoyed for what it is. Fittingly it ends on a rousing chorus of “That’s Entertainment”. Entertainment it unquestionably is. It is also a heartfelt tribute, created and delivered, by a team who believe in the power of music to enrich our lives.

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Tim Hall

 

Upstairs at the Gatehouse thespyinthestalls

A Night at the Oscars

Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 4th March

 

 

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Review of The Barricade Boys – Christmas Cabaret – 5 Stars

Barricade

The Barricade Boys – Christmas Cabaret

The Other Palace

Reviewed – 7th December 2017

★★★★★

“well-structured variety of songs, brilliant performances, plenty of laughter and moments of impacting emotion”

 

This is indeed a luxurious evening of festive favourites (and more) at The Other Palace. Complete with a glittering tree, log fire and cosy lighting, the golden, glowing atmosphere makes one feel as if The Barricade Boys are performing their Christmas Cabaret in one’s own sitting room. Four remarkable voices (Scott Garnham, Simon Schofield, Kieran Brown and Craig Mather) blend together and complement each other, singing a selection of Christmas tunes as well as a choice of pop, rock and show songs. The intimate setting of The Studio allows informal interaction with the audience between numbers, but the professional attention to detail is never lost and they sing with flair, accuracy and emotion.

The vocal balance, the intonation in complex harmonies and the slick presentation are of such a high standard that the easiness is deceptive, even in the organised chaos of their special version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Precision can be unforgiving in small venues but The Barricade Boys sing with impeccable ensemble. With the appearance of a different guest artist every evening (last night being the talented Michael Xavier) they journey from the energy of ‘Johnny Be Good’ to the foot-tapping of ‘Let It Snow’, through to ‘I Dreamed A Dream’.

There are many beautiful and clever arrangements by Musical Supervisor, James Doughty, balancing the singing lines and allowing each to shine. Noam Galperin – Musical Director – sits discreetly at the piano, accompanying the whole evening in a marathon of a programme. The members of the group are linked by their involvement in Les Miserables which, presumably, is where their name came from; the Barricade Boys were a fictional group of revolutionary students who appear in the story. All four actors have prolific careers on stage, television and film, and the years of experience is manifest in their relaxed, yet composed, demeanor and their versatility. This Christmas show was a wonderful addition, by established actors, to The Other Palace’s Development Programme, set up to discover, explore and create the musical theatre genre.

It is an evening of thorough enjoyment for the audience and seemingly also for the group, with the slight risk of occasional ‘in’ moments. However, ‘Bring Him Home’ cast a magical spell over the audience and it is hard not to join in the ‘Party Medley’, which puts it all into perspective. This is a Christmas Cabaret of well-structured variety of songs, brilliant performances, plenty of laughter and moments of impacting emotion – an intoxicating way to get into the Christmas spirit.

 

Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington 

 

The Barricade Boys – Christmas Cabaret

is at The Other Palace until 23rd December

 

 

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