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The Theatre Channel – Episode 5 – The Classics of Broadway

Reviewer: Karl O’Doherty

Director and Choreographer: Bill Deamer

Director: Thom Southerland

Think of Broadway and what have you got? Big, bold numbers, bursting out and hitting the audience hard.

The fifth episode in the series brings another creative, unintuitive mix from the Theatre Channel, reflecting what director Bill Deamer refers to as “unobvious” choices. These may not be the first songs you think of when you think of the hits of New York musicals, but collectively they’re a blast. It shows the range of these big blockbuster shows, musically and emotionally, and once more causes us to miss the days when we could pack into the stalls (or the far reaches of the upper circle) to lose ourselves for a few hours.

From the big band sounds to the simplicity of an emotional solo – we run a full range here. Freddie Fox kicks it off with a sexy, dangerous (and wildly accented) arrangement of Willkommen and Money from Cabaret. The filming and choreography here makes super use of spaces allowing him and the other performers full rein over one of London’s large, empty playhouses to spread the wealth around.

We’re able to catch our breath a little with The Theatre Channel’s Café Four’s Coffee Break from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Smart videography brings us on a manic trip around London’s Theatre Cafe in search of a fix that doesn’t come. It’s a little bit of an oddity in the collection, short but sweet. It leads up one of the big hitters in the show – Luck Be A Lady from Guys and Dolls sung here by Gary Wilmot. Complete with tux, shooting cuffs, suave moves and a backdrop of a well-lit backstage area it’s a real reminder of how a song and set can make a trio of performers really feel huge to an audience.

The middle section is completed by Alyn Hawke and Emily Langham with Bye Bye Birdie’s duet Put On A Happy Face and Bonnie Langford singing I Get A Kick Out Of You from Anything Goes. Both well sung, nicely laid out, but sadly lacking the spark that we’re expecting with a “Classics of Broadway” show.

That promise is, however, delivered in full with Mazz Murray absolutely smashing Everything’s Coming Up Roses from Gypsy. A vigorous, full-throated performance which sets itself apart from the others in this line up by managing the trick of bringing us into her world, not just watching her sing on screen.

Ending on a beautiful reminder of the depth as well as the heights these musicals can reach, Marisha Wallace sings Somewhere from West Side Story. Shot on the terraces of the National Theatre, looking out over the river, it’s a striking ending.

The videography from Ben Hewis, inventive choreography from Bill Deamer, set and costume (Gregor Donnelly), lighting (Jack Weir) and sound (Keegan Curran), have creatively solved any issues the production had of having to film in lockdown with social distancing. These are inventive, tightly produced individual songs that take us, even for 25 minutes or so, back to where we want to be. Back in the land of bright lights, indulgent sets and costumes and space to live these great works of musical theatre.

Available here

The Reviews Hub Score

Big and bold, great emotional depth

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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