Live at Zedel, London – until 19 April 2018
Guest reviewer: Bhakti Gajjar
For anyone who has sat through the drawn-out spectacle of a musical that just seemed to miss the mark completely, Alexander S Bermange sympathises with you. From the opening number which promises so much, through to the second half that might feel as though it is dragging on just a bit too long, the audience’s plight is fully acknowledged in this spirited production.
What’s also apparent is that this is a decidedly un-rosy experience for the performers too. For all the contrived joviality and tightly directed cohesion on stage, the polar opposite is going on behind the scenes. I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical is a satirical exposé of the life of a musical theatre performer, which poking fun at all those involved in a musical (the audience included) while the performers themselves also come to terms with why they endure such an ordeal.
The life of a musical theatre star is not an easy one. Auditioning is a gruelling and thankless task (beautifully communicated by Diana Vickers in her finest moment of the show), but even after getting a part, you could be resigned to waiting in the wings as an understudy to the star who will never willingly relinquish a show. Or you could be forced to contend with an unbearable star, as exquisitely portrayed by Suzie Mathers in The Diva Is Here. You may even end up with a stalker, before eventually becoming a teacher. The stories are all grounded in reality but layered with a healthy dose of comedy.
The cast of five – which includes Bermange on the piano, acting as narrator and an ensemble actor who longs to be recognised in his own right – is well assembled, with Oliver Savile and Liam Tamne rounding out the group. Strong vocals and on-stage chemistry means they are a delight to watch. Mathers and Savile are outstanding in their own rights, but even better together and no doubt this comes as a result of being reunited in their third production together.
Throughout however, it is apparent that rehearsal time was lacking; while the songs are broadly on point, the dialogue between numbers is rushed and often delivered off cue cards. This is a shame, since the material is sharp, creative and fiery and appropriately mirroring the energy levels that exist across a performer’s career, which gradually peters out.
Hopefully with time, the delivery will do the piece justice. Until then it remains a highly enjoyable evening and one which will no doubt give the audience a new perspective on the next musical they see.
Runs until 15 April, and then 19 AprilReviewed by Bhakti Gajjar