St James Studio Theatre
27 May 2016
Musicals Unsung is an evening of songs cut from musicals. It’s an interesting premise and one that I found both entertaining and informative as a musical theatre lover. On this occasion, the song choices were decidedly modern with songs chosen from shows including The Last Five Years, Wicked, Shrek, Aladdin and The Drowsy Chaperone.
The evening offered an insight into the process involved in developing musicals, and in some cases the fine tuning done to major musicals as they tour, or are made from animated features into stage musicals. Major musical motifs tend to remain in songs cut and replaced and it is usually easy to identify what shows are involved without being told.
In the intimate St James Studio, playing to a full house, were Stewart Clarke, Lucie Jones, Jeremy Legat, Katie Paine and Sally Samad. The majority of the programme consisted of solos taken from the various shows selected on the evening with Spring Awakening providing There Once Was A Pirate, the only group number performed on the night.
Accompanied by Musical Director Kris Rawlinson together with Rhiannon Jeffreys (Reeds) and Natalie Hancock (Cello), and performed in a cabaret/concert format this was an evening driven by sheer talent.
Stewart Clarke’s rendition of Proud Of Your Boy, a song cut from the Aladdin animated feature but re-instated for the stage production was heartfelt. Which Way Is The Party?, replaced by Dancing Through Life in Wicked perfectly showcased Clarke’s voice and showed him off as a devilishly handsome leading man.
Lucie Jones’s soaring vocal performances of Written In Stone from Mulan and Making Good from Wicked, were simply perfect showing off a performer on her way to the top. Katie Paine’s rendition of Loose Ends, a song which appears to have been in and out of various productions of The Witches Of Wastwick certainly made you wonder why it would ever be cut.
Sally Samad put her comedy talents to work duetting with Jeremy Legat on I Remember Love from The Drowsy Chaperone, before tackling Sondheim’s She’ll Be Back, written but not used in Into The Woods.
Jeremy Legat’s I Found A Hobby, a deliciously dark former incarnation of Be A Dentist from Little Shop Of Horrors bought light relief to Act One whilst the catch Jitterbug from The Wizard Of Oz opened Act Two with a zing.
Performing any musical theatre number out of context in a cabaret setting without costumes, sets or dialogue to help set the scene is a phenomenal challenge in any case. This talented group of actors, showed their ability to act through song, whilst establishing a line of communication with their audience, giving this event an intimacy that most musical theatre lovers crave.
Kris Rawlinson’s arrangements and accompaniment throughout was sublime and perfectly in synch with the performers. His playing never dominating but always providing a rich musical background to showcase the performances.
Based on the performance of There Once Was A Pirate, it would be great to see some more numbers involving the group of performers as a whole, but on this night I went out into the night humming my way home more than satisfied.
I look forward to future Musicals Unsung in the future. I’m looking forward to seeing what future treasures from musicals past Kris and his team might be able to dig up.