Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms), London
What better way to celebrate what would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, than at the Royal Albert Hall with a glorious performance of On The Town? Written in 1944 with Adolph Green, Jerome Robbins and Betty Comden, this show is a light-hearted look at love which takes place over 24 hours in New York and is accompanied by beautifully woven music.
The plot follows three sailors who are in the Big Apple for one day only. Their time soon becomes commanded by some humorous, strong, powerful women who provide a larger than life experience. Each character is memorable and brilliantly performed by the stellar cast which celebrates some of the best the West End theatre scene has to offer.
Each cast member came at their role with vigour and embraced both the humour and more nuanced moments fantastically. Whilst the comedy is repetitive at times, it was very well pulled off, with well-timed motifs remaining humorous instead of grating, especially the entrances of Pitkin (Barnaby Rea) whilst his fiancé Claire (Celinde Schoenmaker) and Ozzie (Nadim Naaman) were getting closer and closer.
Nathaniel Hackmann’s smooth vocals were especially striking as the lovestruck Gabey, whilst Siena Kelly was perfectly flirty and humourous as Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith. Claire Moore was equally witty as drunken singing teacher Madame Dilly and earned several laughs from the audience.
Whilst the entire leading cast was extremely strong, it was ‘Come Up To My Place’, a back-and-forth duet by Hildy (Louise Dearman) and Chip (Fra Fee) which provided the most memorable scene of the night.
This very simplistic concert, whilst beautifully staged by Martin Duncan, with basic projections and innovative prop usage, really just highlighted how stunning the score of On The Town is. The music has wit and sharpness embedded in it which brings the story to life without a need for dramatic sets and scene changes.
John Wilson brought the vivid score to life, conducting the London Symphony Orchestra with energy and bringing out flawless sounds. The varied musical sections showcased the adaptability and versatility of the orchestra and really evoked feelings of the golden age.
The full-house of the Royal Albert Hall were treated to a truly spectacular performance which you would be a fool to miss on BBC catch up! Full of joy and life, watching On The Town was a joyous experience.
photo credit: Mark Allan