MusicalNorth WestReview

Tell Me On A Sunday – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Don Black
Director: Paul Foster
Reviewer: Helen Jones


Tell Me On A Sunday was originally written and performed at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton festival in 1979 and then as a TV special in February 1980. It tells the story of ‘the girl’ who has emigrated to New York and her rather unsuccessful love life. Later productions have added or rewritten numbers and ‘the girl’ has become ‘Emma’ but the basic plotline remains. It has always been a one-act musical, although it had a highly successful West End run as the first half of Song and Dance; the second half being a ballet set to Lloyd Webber’s Variations, a classical piece of music based upon Paganini’s A Minor Caprice No 24.

Emma is living in New York but her boyfriend is cheating on her so they split. She meets a film producer and moves to Los Angeles to be with him but he doesn’t have the commitment to the relationship. Back in New York Emma falls for a guy younger than her, but is once more cheated on. She then becomes involved with a married manbut hates what she has become so breaks it off. Finally, she realises that she is better off alone than in a relationship for the sake of it.

Tell Me On A Sunday incorporates some of Lloyd Webber’s best music alongside the wonderful Don Black lyrics, and provides huge swings of emotion from the light-hearted Capped Teeth and Ceasar Salad to the emotional Nothing Like You’ve Ever Known and of course the title number.

Jodie Prenger has an excellent voice and a lot of musical theatre experience, but Paul Foster’s direction never really allows her to show her stunning voice to the best advantage. The musical phrasing is erratic and detracts from the lyrics. Prenger though gives everything emotionally and makes the audience feel her pain with her. But the entire musical left this reviewer feeling a little disappointed.

For the short second act, Prenger comes on as herself, performs a couple of songs, one with her understudy Jodie Beth Meyer and answers some questions from the audience. The songs show the true beauty of her voice and her natural effervescence and humour are allowed to shine. She closes the show with Unexpected Song, written by Lloyd Webber and Black for Variations, leaving a contented audience.

Tell Me On A Sunday is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser known works but one of his best, it is just a shame that this staging of the musical is not showing it off to best advantage

Reviewed on 25th April 2016 | Image:TristramKenton


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