Filmed inside The Theatre Cafe and out and about, this latest episode of The Theatre Channel’s series of musical theatre showcases features songs from rock musicals.
Right from the opening episode of this series, risks have been taken with the presentation of material and production values have been high: this rock special is no exception, with Rob Houchen’s ‘Gethsemane’ (Jesus Christ Superstar) played out in front of St Martin in the Fields and the National Gallery, and a vibrant ‘Acid Queen’ (Tommy) from Aisha Jawando.
With a feel of part film – Bill Deamer’s direction has become more cinematic with each episode – and part West End spectacular. In John Owen-Jones’ thoughtful rendition of ‘Pity The Child’ from Chess we are right up close from the front row, seeing the anguish in this tortured character’s eyes.
The Theatre Channel – which is planning to continue the series into 2021 – has assisted greatly in reminding us of what we have been missing with the closure of theatreland’s big musicals. Not just in the West End, but across the whole of the UK.
This week we heard that many venues will have to curtail reopening plans for another month, at least. The Theatre Cafe and Adam Blanshay have done much to bring the great songs of musicals from a variety of composers.
In this episode, Alex Gaumond sings ‘Le Monde est Stone’ (from Starmania), in his first language, with a behind the scenes chat about it, also featuring lyricist Luc Plamondon. Not a musical I am familiar with, despite it having passed its 40th birthday, but I will check it out.
The Cafe Four continues to do sterling work, opening up proceedings with Hair’s hippy anthem ‘Aquarius’, which still hits home with an expression of hope we sorely need. These four performers (Alyn Hawke, Emily Langham, Sarah-Jean Shirley, Alex Woodward) have shown their versatility across the series so far.
The Rock episode of the Theatre Channel’s web series is released on 27 November 2002 and can be purchased at https://www.thetheatrecafe.co.uk/channel/ at £20. Once bought, you can watch indefinitely.