Union Theatre Summer 2019
This short (90 minutes
including interval) salute to Broadway songwriter Jerry Herman is
pleasant. Ten pleasant performers sing pleasantly, dance pleasantly
and smile pleasantly.
If in the process they
homogenise all the
songs, losing much of their individual strengths and characters and
reducing the evening to a string of pretty melodies – well, it's
If Jerry Herman had
written only the music and lyrics
to Hello Dolly his fame would be assured. Add in Mame, La Cage Aux
Folles, Mack And Mabel and the lesser-known Milk And Honey, Dear
World and The Grand Tour and his place in the Broadway pantheon is
What makes Herman
special is his conventionality.
While Sondheim was stretching the boundaries of the musical and Lloyd
Webber was taking it to new emotional depths, Herman worked
completely within the formulas that had served the genre for decades.
Each of his scores ticks
off the standard boxes – a big opening
number, some love duets, come comic songs, some big production
numbers, and so on – the significant factor being that all are
among the best of their kind.
The song list here is
entirely from the big hit shows. We could debate inclusions and
omissions, but any selection has to be – well, selective.
thing worth noting is that The Big One, the song that absolutely had
to be included in any collection of Herman, barely gets the briefest
of samplings, and its omission leaves a gaping hole.
The order of
songs is almost random, with only occasional hints at thematic
structure, as when a love song from one show is answered by one from
another, or when two songs about parades are mashed together.
Stripped of their
context and performed too placidly, too many of the
songs lose their dramatic power. There is only the slightest hint of
the defiance of I Am What I Am, the poignancy of I Won't Send Roses,
the wonder of It Only Takes A Moment and the essences of others.
songs are assigned democratically, with everyone in the cast given a
fair share, with the result that no one gets to stand out or make
much of an individual impression.
Everyone in the cast sometimes, and some in the cast always have trouble projecting their voices over a single piano.
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Review - Showtune - Union Theatre 2019