Tell Me On A Sunday
Richmond Theatre (UK Tour)
13 April 2016
Tell Me On A Sunday is the first collaboration undertaken between Don Black and Andrew Lloyd Webber. They would later go on to work together on Sunset Boulevard, but this, their was their first collaboration and Lloyd Webber’s first dalliance with a lyricist after Tim Rice. Tell Me On A Sunday has been televised, ended up as the first part of Song and Dance and has been interpreted by a wide range of performers, who each bought their own unique take to the piece.
Tell Me On A Sunday is the story of Emma, a single English girl who goes off to New York in search of love. Through a cycle of just over twenty songs, we get a very English view of the American experience. We also get to experience Emma’s seemingly hopeless series of failed relationships with all manner of men. Her only connection with home is a series of letters to her mum. These letters form the backbone of the musical, they are in the most part light, funny, notes that display the unflinching optimism of youth.
On this occasion Jodie Prenger has taken up the mantle of Emma, bringing an emotional sensibility to the material. I’ve seen several versions of Tell Me On A Sunday and for me it comes down to the honesty of the performance. People will always compare performers but can Prenger hold an evening together?
The answer is simply YES!
In this production Prenger brings the honesty home in droves, forgoing vocal gymnastics and powerhouse divaisms to deliver emotional truth. It’s a daunting task for any performer to walk onto a stage and carry a good 70 minutes alone. Tonight, Prenger walked on and certainly showed herself to be a formidable musical theatre force.
Don Black’s lyrics for the show pull no punches. Emma’s experience would stop some people in their tracks, but Black makes sure that her experience is never undervalued or made to seem flippant. Set to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s glorious melodies, Tell Me On A Sunday contains some great material from two men in top form.
The creative team seem to have returned to an almost original song list, with the additions of Ready Made Life and Dreams Never Run On Time, abandoning many of the songs written for the earlier Denise Van Outen staging of the show. It’s a little disappointing that Unexpected Song has been side-lined only to be performed in a the second half. Still the present line up with a few minor lyric adjustments from Black still has the material in blistering form.
The small musical ensemble under the direction of Peter McCarthy is in fine form. They deliver Lloyd Webber’s heady score with aplomb.
This would be more than enough for most performers, but Prenger comes back in act two for a wonderful rendition of Secret Love, a duet with her understudy (Jodie Beth Meyer) who is quite wonderful and a quick question and answer session with the audience.
All in all, Tell Me On A Sunday makes for a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. It’s a no gimmick, low tech, beautifully performed entertainment that has not diminished over time.