We are now onto the third of my new weekly musical theatre podcast series ShenTens. This week I count down my top ten favourite Sondheim songs — at least my favourites right now.
The Show People Podcast is one year old! That’s right The Show People Podcast celebrates one year of bringing you special theatre guests every fortnight and shining a spotlight on the UK performing arts and joining host Andrew Keates this time is Scott Garnham.
Janie Dee’s brief residency at Live At Zedel was a chance to glimpse a performance of understated excellence. A two-time Olivier winner – and just nominated for a third – Dee drew her inspiration from across the spectrum of song in an enchanting yet eclectic set.
It may be the first day of autumn, but the smiles of a summer night can be enjoyed in this welcome revival of the rapturously melodic musical A Little Night Music.
Well, we made it, just. 2017 passed by with just the 346 visits to the theatre, I don’t really know why I do it to myself! Out of those, 33 were return visits to shows I’d already seen and I got out of London for 32 shows – not too bad considering I don’t do Edinburgh and no one is covering my travel expenses!
The enchanted narrative of A Little Night Music sees the summer night famously smiling three times: once upon the young, again upon the foolish and finally, upon the old.
This week, the learned London theatre bloggers discuss Rattigan’s French Without Tears in Richmond, Sondheim’s A Little Night Music and the UK premiere of screen-to-stage Broadway musical Xanadu.
Next weekend, the 85th birthday of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will be marked (albeit, somewhat belatedly – his actual birthday was on 22 March) in grand, celebratory at the West End’s 2,000-seat Theatre Royal Drury Lane, care of the Sondheim Society.
A Little Night Music is up there as one of the great Sondheim musicals and it’s a nobly ambitious show that Aaron Clingham’s All Star Productions mount at Walthamstow’s Rose and Crown Theatre. Tim McArthur directs a cast of sixteen who cavort their way through the musical rom-com, itself a take on the seminal Ingmar Bergman classic, Smiles Of A Summer Night and there are some gems amongst his company.
Crazy Coqs, London
Back by popular demand, Frances Ruffelle brought her song cycle of a show, Beneath The Dress, to a packed out Crazy Coqs for two nights only.
In what was to prove an eclectic, coquette-ick whirl, Ruffelle ‘s one-woman one-act set drew on a collection of mainstream and left field numbers from both sides of the Atlantic. In parts whimsical and reflective, at other times outrageously celebratory, those who know the singer well may perhaps recognise the moments that she has suggested hint at autobiography.
Ruffelle’s entrance through the crowd offered a provocative wit, with the singer soon into one of her own compositions, Hit Me With A Hot Note, proving she not only possesses one of the most gorgeously controlled and distinctively timbred voices around, her writing is neat too.
Above all, Ruffelle is one of those uber-talented women who defines the craft of acting through song. The students of today need to watch her and learn, as she imbues just the right amount of melancholy into Rodgers and Hart’s Ten Cents A Dance, whilst her take on Lilac Wine the James Shelton 1950 classic and made famous in turn (depending upon your age) by Nina Simone, Elkie Brooks and latterly Katie Melua, was revelatory. Ruffelle understands her songs intimately, coaxing newly discovered nuance and poignancy from numbers we thought we knew well.
The unpredictability to the set list mirrored Ruffelle’s cutely distinctive persona. Tom Waits’ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis is probably not often heard amidst the art-deco swirls of the Crazy Coqs, likewise the car crash of a number that is Coffee from See What I See. Each though added to the confection of reflection that made up the night.
The show wouldn’t have been complete without a nod to Ruffelle’s most celebrated creation, Les Miserables’ Eponine and with several tributes to Piaf throughout the evening, including an enchanting mash up that saw Piaf’s classic Hymn To Love segueing in and out of Les Mis’ On My Own, it is clear to see Ruffelle has a metier that’s firmly rooted in the entente cordiale.
David Barber’s five piece band were excellent in support and as ever, producer Danielle Tarento’s commitment to excellence had ensured a polished turn. Beneath The Dress show has already toured widely and these two nights were not enough. Ruffelle fills the venue, not just with an audience but a gorgeous ambience too – The Crazy Coqs should get her back soon.
With the Whingers to a Sunday matinee of ‘A Little Night Music’ in its Trevor Nunn reincarnation at the Menier Chocolate Factory theatre, auditorium neatly reoriented from the womblike velvet tunnel structure for Cage aux Folles to something resembling a miniaturised hexagon, pre-theatre lunch nicely presented, seats now numbered and reserved, toilets clean, doors to […]
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