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BRIGHTON FRINGE: Broadway Lunchbox – The Gods

Performer: Jason Thorpe

Reviewer: Stephen Bates

Sandwiches and Sondheim? Not a bad idea and, even though, sadly, there is no actual Sondheim here, a collection of classic show tunes is bound to add flavour to the sarnies, salads or sushi.

All the songs are performed by Jason Thorpe, attired for the middle of the day in t-shirt and jeans and accompanied by pre-recorded backing tracks. If it sounds a bit “karaoke”, well it is a lot better than that, but, for the first four songs, not much better than okay. Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret is a predictable opener, followed by You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling (yes it has featured recently in Beautiful… but “Broadway”?). Two Rat Pack swing numbers then pose further questions about the show’s title.

Just when we start thinking about the Trades Description Act, Thorpe dips into the little known (in the UK) show Jekyll and Hyde and doubts are dispelled. It now emerges clearly that he is not, after all, a so-so singer who belongs on the cabaret circuit or cruise ships, but an accomplished musical theatre performer with a gift for interpreting lyrics and acting out songs.

At this performance a microphone malfunction also proved revelatory. Thorpe has a voice that could be heard, unaided, up in the gods at Drury Lane, so why would he need a mike in this tiny venue of that name? He sounds much better without distorted amplification.

Thorpe takes us through selections from the likes of Rent, Wicked, Grease and, inevitably, Les Mis and he tells us that he has a penchant for singing sad songs. Fair enough, they suit him and contrast well with his easy-going, self-deprecating manner. He also seems to like taking songs written for female characters and singing them with a gay twist. The show needs more polish to take it further, but it is more than good enough to send us back refreshed for an afternoon’s work.

Runs until 4 June 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. 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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