We should celebrate the fact that within the space of a year London has played host to stagings of not one but two Sondheim masterpieces that have all but redefined them in theatrical terms: Company and Follies.
I was a little late to the party in respect of Vladimir Jurowski’s scintillating new recording of the original 1877 version of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (Yevgeny Svetlanov’s orchestra) but I’ve been much absorbed by it, thrilled by it.
Leonard Bernstein and André Previn very different animals. But their completeness as musicians, their ability to embrace and cherish music of spectacularly diverse genres, their connection with popular culture, their many and varied gifts as conductors, composers, pianists, and impossibly eloquent commentators make them kindred spirits in so many respects.
In Joyce DiDonato’s album Songplay we have the epitome of what we Brits call a ‘Marmite’ experience with elements to love and/or loathe whether or not you buy the concept in the first place.
New York City Center Encores – an NYC haven for neglected or forgotten shows – have now revived Brigadoon six times, a testament to its enduring appeal, and this latest manifestation with the delectable Kelli O’Hara as Fiona is most welcome.
I have often been asked if I listen to music differently when reviewing or not reviewing. It’s an interesting question. There is, you could say, a heightened level of awareness when ‘in working mode’.
The recent revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess at English National Opera and the prospect of comparing all its available recordings in BBC Radio 3’s Record Review has prompted me to look a little deeper into this landmark score and to reassess its significance in the chronology of American music theatre.
Renée Fleming’s choices are shrewd and wide-ranging in her Broadway album, embracing the contemporary and the classic in pretty much equal measure whilst demonstrating that style in this repertoire probably has more to do with attitude than technical adjustment. More, but not all.
It’s the earnestness that doesn’t ring true in Simon Rattle and LSO’s recording of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town, the way in which that which should come naturally simply sounds overworked.
This is also a beautifully sung revival of Carousel on Broadway – and even having not seen it I can tell that these terrific artists are truly ‘acting through song’.
There wasn’t much that Leonard Bernstein didn’t try his hand at at least once – and wanting, needing, to experience it all applied as surely to the music he wrote as to the music he conducted.
It’s an amazing time for diversity of style in “musicals” on both sides of the pond. Hamilton’s hip-hop, street poetry, storytelling, David Yazbek’s middle-eastern infused charmer The Band’s Visit, Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home (newly arrived at London’s Young Vic while her dazzlingly original Caroline Or Change plays at the Playhouse Theatre).
The sound of tapping feet invokes a whole era of classic Broadway and Hollywood musicals and when the curtain rises on this tap-infused extravaganza it pauses 18 inches or so off the stage to afford us our first glimpse of the source of that pulsing, kinetic sound – 42nd Street.
Comparing Notes brings stars of the West End and Broadway to Pizza Express Live Holborn. In a lively and informal mix of performance and conversation host Edward Seckerson will be getting up close and personal with these musical theatre luminaries, exploring the stories behind the songs and the personalities behind the artistry.
With such songs comes great responsibility and of the many things that makes the West End arrival of Dreamgirls such a dazzling affair we must first applaud the casting. Every soul on the Savoy stage sounds and looks dynamic – and I mean dynamic. There really cannot be a better ensemble in the West End right now.
Lazarus will undoubtedly be regarded by some as pretentious on an industrial scale – and in some respects it is – but only if you have never bought in to the Bowie ethos.
You almost wonder where this show can possibly go when the opening number is so strong, so emotive, so damn heartbreaking. Cathy is “Still Hurting” from the break-up of her relationship with Jamie and Samantha Barks is already singing the crap out of her darkest hour when we’ve barely settled in our seats
It’s one of those true stories you really couldn’t make up. In 1920s Kentucky, Floyd Collins, visionary cave explorer, happens across a spectacular sand cave – the sand cave of his dreams – only to become trapped on his way back to the surface.
Patricia Routledge trained not only as an actress but also as a singer and had considerable experience and success in musical theatre, both in this country and in the United States of America. Her many awards include a Tony for her Broadway performance in the Styne-Harburg musical Darling of the Day and a Laurence Olivier Award for her performance in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide.
Well over a decade ago Stephen Sondheim expressed some interest in turning the movie Groundhog Day into a musical. Presumably he, too, would have turned to the movie’s scriptwriter Danny Rubin for the book – it is, after all one of those iconic screenplays, as inseparable from the talents of Bill Murray as it might … [Read More]