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.
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
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.
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