Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyricist: Don Black
Director: Paul Foster
Musical Director: Peter McCarthy
Reviewer: Jacqui Onions
Tell Me on a Sunday follows the story of Emma – a British girl, her life and loves, as she makes her way in America. There is something in Emma’s life that everyone can relate to, be it the joys of falling in love or the heartbreak of a failed relationship, making the show emotive and relevant.
This one-woman show piles a huge amount of pressure on the actor playing Emma. Not only must she hold the audience all by herself, she is singing the whole time with no dialogue to help the characterisation and emotion along the way. Jodie Prenger makes it look easy. It is well worth seeing this production just to hear Prenger perform Don Black’s and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beautiful, classic songs such as Take That Look Off Your Face and of course the title track, Tell Me on a Sunday.
This particular production of Tell Me on a Sunday seems to focus very much on the lows in Emma’s life – her mistakes and the failure of her relationships. Under the direction of Paul Foster, Prenger explores these emotions well but never seems to be truly allowed to explore the flip side of the coin, the giddy highs of falling in love and the inherent optimism that allows Emma to bounce back time and again.
The design, by David Woodhead, does nothing to lift the mood. Although the New York skyline separating the musicians, who are seated at the back of the stage, from the performance area looks good, the rest of the set is dowdy, old-fashioned and lacks any dynamism. The costuming is very similar and does nothing to create a bubbly Emma who always bounces back and finds herself a new man. It seems particularly incongruous that the scene in which she is meant to be enjoying the high life and sunshine in Beverly Hills features the only costume in the whole show where Prenger is completely covered from the neck down.
Performed in one act, the second half of the show comprises of a question and answer session with Prenger, along with a few more songs from her and a beautiful duet with her understudy, Jodie Beth Meyer. Prenger walks onto the stage, looking stunning in a classic little black dress, and proceeds to light up the room with her bubbly personality and engaging anecdotes, proving that she can be everything that you could want from the character, Emma, given the chance.
This production of Tell me on a Sunday is more for the Prenger fans than fans of the show.
Runs until 9 April 2016 | Image: Tristram Kenton