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 The Theatreguide.London Review

In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others by streaming new shows. Until things return to normal we review the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.

Kings Of Broadway 2020
broadwayworld.com and YouTube Summer 2020

On the model of the Sondheim Birthday Tribute, this charity concert features a few dozen singers and musicians each performing in the one uncluttered corner of their homes.

The theme is a salute to Jule Styne, Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim, though the effect is more of a random collection of show tunes, justified by their inherent quality more than any serious career retrospective.

The whole is compered by musical director and occasional piano accompanist Alex Parker, who also provides the unobtrusive requests for charity contributions.

As in any anthology, everyone will have different favourites, and the comments on the YouTube page show that even the singers I found least impressive had their own fans.

Certainly things get off to a great start with the multi-screen performance of the Overture to Gypsy (surely one of Broadway's greatest overtures). After that, Emma Kingston channels the young Streisand in I'm The Greatest Star, while a little later on Caroline Sheen sings People as if she had never heard of Barbra and both approaches work beautifully.

Janie Dee manages to strip Passion's Loving You of all overtones of obsession to reveal a simple little love song there, and Lucy Schauer effortlessly finds all the poignant beauty in Styne's Time After Time (one of several songs in the show that might inspire a delighted 'I didn't know he wrote that').

Samantha Spiro does an understated His Is The Only Music, Ramin Karimloo a dramatic Being Alive, and although she starts slow Louise Dearman builds to the full heartbreak of Losing My Mind.

On the other hand Michael Colbourne, singing a split-screen trio of You Could Drive A Person Crazy with himself, stretches the concept of harmony, and Michael Xavier is upstaged by his dog, totally unimpressed by Xavier's I Won't Send Roses.

Near the end host Alex Parker pauses to acknowledge the current racial demonstrations in the USA, leading to the powerful multi-screen recitation of a Maya Angelou poem and giving an unexpected subtext to Clive Rowe's melancholic The Party's Over.

There's a number by a community theatre group from Guildford, and things end with the staff of a Sainsbury's doing full justice to the exquisite harmonies of Sondheim's Sunday.

As I suggested in my review of the Sondheim Birthday show, we may be witnessing the birth of a new theatrical form in the from-our-homes Zoom concert.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  Kings Of Broadway 2020