Reviews

Holiday Inn

Music & Lyrics: Irving Berlin. Book: Gordon Greenberg & Chad Hodge. Based on the 1942 movie of the same name. Director: Gordon Greenburg. Musical Director: Andy Einhorn. Choreography: Denis Jones. BroadwayHD Free Streaming. 30 May, 2020.

Jerome Kern famously said, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music, he is American music,” and there’s no better example of it than in the score of Holiday Inn. Based on the 1942 movie which starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, this version of the backstage show-business story overcomes the clichéd plot with a score of Berlin favourites that lift it every time.

Hairspray Live!

Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Book: Harvey Feinstein, based on the Broadway original by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan. Director: Kenny Leon, Alex Rudinski. Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell. Musical Director: Lon Hoyt. The Streamed on The Shows Must Go On! YouTube - 30-31 May 2020

One of the best, if not the best, musical comedy of the past two decades, Hairspray Live! had a perfect cast and was the perfect vehicle to showcase them. The stars lived up to their hype, with Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle and Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton knocking it out of the ballpark with their vocals. Harvey Fierstein, repeating his iconic performance of Edna Turnblad from the original Broadway production, and with a list of cameos as long as your arm to add to the star power, this NBC production was totally euphoric.

Bombshell In Concert

Music: Marc Shaiman. Lyrics: Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman. Director: Michael Mayer. Musical Director: Marc Shaiman. Choreographer: Joshua Bergasse. People.com free live-stream. Wednesday 20 May 2020

When Bombshell In Concert aired last Wednesday it was manna from heaven for musical theatre geeks who worship at the shrine of Smash, the beloved NBC series which aired for two seasons 2012-13.

Noah, Moses and Jonah

Sight & Sound Theatre. Featured on BroadwayHD.com

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown I received many excited messages from friends telling me of BroadwayHD.com, a streaming service dedicated to performing arts. The channel has a diverse range of titles from traditional live musical theatre and movies to plays and concerts.  Dozens of titles include performances from Hugh Jackman (Oklahoma!), David Hasselhoff (Jekyll and Hyde), Zachary Levi (She Loves Me) and the complete Nunsense series. 

The Sound of Music Live!

Music: Richard Rodgers. Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein 2nd. Additional Lyrics: Richard Rodgers. Book: Howard Lindsay & Russell Crouse, adapted for television by Austin Winsberg. Executive Producers: Neil Meron, Craig Zadan. Directors: Rob Ashford, Beth McCarthy-Miller. Musical Director: David Chase. The Shows Must Go On YouTube Channel. Free Stream. 23-24 May 2020

When NBC aired The Sound of Music Live!, on Thursday December 5th 2013, itwas the first time in over 50 years that a television network had broadcast a live version of a Broadway musical. The telecast pulled in nearly 20 million viewers.

Begotten: the radio play

Written and performed by Bianca Butler Reynolds. Minola Theatre. Launched online 16 May, 2020

Imagine being able to go back in time and have a conversation with your grandmother or your great-grandmother when they were young and full of ambitions for their future. What would it be like to hear an uncensored version of their life choices and the reasons behind them? It could be confronting, sentimental, provocative, worrying – in the case of Begotten by Bianca Butler Reynolds, it is all of the above. The writer has woven together one family’s passions, secrets and lies into a fascinating tapestry, brought to life with music and audio effects as a radio play.

Funny Girl

Music: Jule Styne. Lyrics: Bob Merrill. Book: Isobel Lennart from an original story by Miss Lennart. Revised Book: Harvey Fierstein. Director: Michael Mayer. Vision Director: Robert Delamere/ Musical Director: Alan Williams . Choreographer: Lynne Paige. Recorded Live Manchester Palace Theatre, August 2017. Digital Theatre. Cost: £7.99

What is it about the English and American musicals? They seem to be able to revive them and bring dollops of lustre to even the most jaded of musical forms – for instance the backstage musical. Just look at Imelda Staunton’s groundbreaking performance as the definitive Mama Rose in Gypsy.

By Jeeves

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Book & Lyrics: Alan Ayckbourn. Based on the “Jeeves” stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Director: Alan Ayckbourn. Film Director: Nick Morris. Musical Director/Pianist: F. Wade Russo. Choreographer: Sheila Carter. The Shows Must Go On. 8-10 May 2020

For the past six weeks Andrew Lloyd Webber has made available a filmed version of one of his musicals screening for free over the weekend on the YouTube channel The Shows Must Go On. Last weekend brought us something out of the box and not one of his blockbusters.

Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration

Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim. Producer/Narrator: Raul Esparza. Director: Paul Wontorek. Musical Director: Mary-Mitchell Campbell. Streamed 27 April 2020, and available on broadway.com/YouTube

Technical hitches mired the first six minutes of this celebration which began half an hour after its advertised curtain time, but the edited version which can now be picked up on the net is a musical theatre aficionado’s delight. Musical geeks will salivate over the roster of Broadway stars who deliver their most intimate performances in their living rooms, studies and kitchens.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration

Royal Albert Hall. The Shows Must Go On Live Stream. Screened May 2 & 3, 2020

Instead of streaming one of his musicals, this past weekend Andrew Lloyd Webber treated musical theatre fans to a 22-year-old 50th birthday celebration concert filmed at London’s historic Royal Albert Hall in 1998. Crammed with musical theatre stars, it was a lavish get-together and a wonderful time-capsule of 90s musical theatre culture. Of course everyone looked and sounded so much younger but the filmed event captured some iconic West End performances.