With gender blind casting increasing year upon year, the ‘never’ in this title should be placed alongside a question mark for in this show female and male performers swap roles, and sing songs from the Musicals that they probably won’t ever sing on the West End stage. It’s an intriguing conceit, and the performers pass the test with flying colours.
With no list of names, or songs, it’s impossible to give everyone credit here ( names now below), but the twenty or so performers, including the five members of the band, all deliver whether it’s male performers singing numbers from Frozen or female performers singing tracks from The Wild Party. We have songs from Hamilton and Ragtime, too, these performances filling the gap until the time comes when these musicals can open once more. Less famous musicals such as The Witches of Eastwick appear too.
Some of the performers have great fun in these gender switched songs especially the man who does an outrageous version of Fabulous Baby from Sister Act The Musical, and Rodney who nails There Are Worse Things I Can Do from Grease. Lauren brings some Country and Western glamour to her version of It All Fades Away from The Bridges of Madison County. She also reappears in a song from The Pyjama Game. It’s a shame that we never get to find out her last name as she is definitely on course to be a star of the future.
Another stand out performance is by a female performer who, as she’s called onto stage at the last minute to fill in for someone who didn’t show, sings one of her own songs, the comically bitter I’m Better Than You. The band – guitar, keyboards, drums, violin and sax – doesn’t bat an eye with this new score and play it as if it’s been playing the song all its life. A tear-jerking Wheels of a Dream from Ragtime closes the first half while towards the end Luke does a wonderful job with All You Wanna Do from Six giving it all the humour – and all the terror – it deserves.
The lights of the West End may still be dimmed, but the lights of the Vauxhall tower blocks, sparkling behind the stage, more than made up for it on this warm September evening. As dusk edged into night time, the lights of the embankment lit up the sky like stars, but the real stars were on the stage tonight.
Turbine On The Jetty runs until 19 September 2020
Fabulous Baby: Idriss Kargbo
There Are Worse Things I Could Do: Rodney Vubya
It All Fades Away: Lauren Bryne
I‘m Better Than You: Caroline Kay
Wheels of a Dream: Bernadette Bangura and Rodney Vubya
All You Wanna Do: Luke Bayer