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CD Review – Richard Beadle: Songs

Reviewer: Jonathan Grant

[rating:4]

Richard Beadle is a very accomplished presence in contemporary musical theatre. His album, Songs, is an anthology comprising some works that will form part of Today Is My Day, a full length show that he is writing, while others are simply penned without a connecting thread.

It is a mark of the respect that Beadle commands within the “Business”, that he has been able to enlist the vocal skills of so many talented artistes to perform his works. Rachael Wooding sings most frequently as Emily, the bride to be in Today Is My Day, while Ross Hunter plays Daniel, her fiancé. In an ingenious performance, the talented Hannah Waddingham sings as Katherine, Daniel’s mother and in a bold move for the musical theatre genre, Beadle has written the song 1967 for her character, addressing a sexual assault endured as a young girl. A disquieting theme, but the writer has approached both lyric and tune sensitively, and Waddingham’s delivery is haunting, hinting at the terror that she experienced, and the damage she subsequently suffered.

Julie Atherton features on two songs, both of which bring comedic interludes to the album. In The Wedding Song, she tries her hand as Emily, frantically preparing herself as all brides must, for the detailed planning of her wedding day. Where the other songs from Today Is My Day are predominantly reflective and introspective, Atherton injects that tone of paranoia that is sufficient to raise a smile in any person who has planned a big event. With I Want A Footballer, Atherton reprises her celebrity-seeking “wannabe” character, heard last year on Dougal Irvine’s song Do You Want A Baby Baby? The lyrics are clever, and the reference to footballers wives and girlfriends being the power-wielders within relationships, suggesting that they are “ the tail that wags the dog” is sublime. If it wasn’t for the “Blue Is The Colour” motif scored into the last few bars, this song would be perfect!

Also performing two songs on the CD is Stuart Matthew Price, for whom Beadle has previously written for the singer’s own album. Colorado Plates sees Price in his fresh and honest style, searching for a probably lost love, with a performance that echoed his previously recorded Run Away With Me.

Lyrically, Beadle does need to sharpen his pencil as regards wit and rhyme if he is to emulate the piercing perception say of Jason Robert Brown, whose music certainly seems to have influenced his work. It must be said however that Richard Beadle’s musical composition is simply outstanding. His range of style and use of orchestra is both exciting and gratifying to listen to, and it is clear why he is a musical director in much demand in today’s competitive West End. The album is both a taste of the future and a celebration of the talents of today. If you enjoy musical theatre, you will relish it.

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