Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Don Black
Director: Paul Foster
Choreographer/Movement Director: Matt Flint
Reviewer: Sue Collier
Following an acclaimed performance in the Watermill Theatre’s 2014 production of Calamity Jane,Jodie Prengeris currently touring in Andrew Lloyd WebberandDon Black’sone-woman show, the classic musical,Tell Me on a Sunday. The musical portrays the romantic misadventures of Emma, a young English girl in New York in the 1980’s. Brimming with optimism, she seeks success and love but after encountering anxiety, frustration, and repeated heartache Emma begins to wonder whether she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. The show features a wonderful score; includingthe chart-toppingTake That Look Off Your Face and title track Tell Me On A Sunday.
The show (originally conceived for television) has been performed by famous West End musical theatre stars such asMarti Webb,Sarah Brightman, and Denise Van Outen. Tell Me On A Sunday is short in duration and usually paired with another performance. This 2016 production, directed byPaul Foster,includes an intimate post-show chat with Prenger about life, love, her career and playing the role of Emma.
For a usual performance of this production, members of the audience are given cards on which to write questions for Prenger to answer. However, on the night of this review, the role of Emma was played by understudy Jodie Beth Mayer. The cards go unused as no post-performance talk followed the musical, making the production just 65 minutes in total. That said, a murmur of support for Mayer could be heard throughout the audience, who indeed gives a very credible performance. She is a great communicator and an expressive singer, though perhaps struggles with her lyrics when singing in the lower register.
Although the songs are catchy, the musical was written several decades ago and tells what feels like a very outdated story. We have a woman so desperate to find a husband that any man will do, regardless of whether she even likes him. The character of Emma is often hard to relate to and fails to develop any form of learning from her previous life experiences. At the end of the performance, we know very little about her at all. Although Mayer performs well, this production would benefit from reconfiguration if it is to meet the requirements of a sophisticated modern audience.
Touring Nationwide | Image: Tristram Kenton