Musical of Musicals (the musical!)
Admin | 26 Feb 2020 13:25pm
Photos by Adrian Hau
On any level Sedos production of The Musical of Musicals, The Musical at the Bridewell, is a fantastic night out, whether you are a musical aficionado or just someone looking for an evening’s entertainment.
With music by Eric Rockwell and lyrics by Joanne Bogart this is a satirical parody of the form and structure of five of the all-time great musical composers. Mimicking their style with perceptive and observant accuracy, it has those of us who love the genre playing ‘spot the musical pastiche’ over and over and over and over and over again.
We see the story of June, William, Abigail and Jitter in quintuplet. This might sound as if it could be a little tedious, in fact it has you sitting on the edge of your seat anticipating the next cycle and wondering how the tale will be twisted to suit the style of the chosen composer. Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Gerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb are all treated equally irreverently in Rockwell and Bogart’s musical mash-up. From Oklahoma!, now set in Kansas where the corn fields are ‘all ears’ to the wonderful Juny (with a J not a G or an L or a Sh) we explore a catalogue of both well known and lesser known melodies which on occasion seem to come as close to the original as possible without being sued for copyright.
Congratulations to the wonderful costume designer Frederica Byron particularly for the lovely Bavarian style shorts and Dirndl skirt in fantastic flowery curtain material and all the wonderful dresses worn by Abby. However, much of the success of this show comes from the slick use of personal props rather than complicated costume changes: hats, canes, umbrellas and corn make for polished transitions, helping to maintain the pace in this high-octane show.
Natalie Pound’s confident piano playing underscores the pieces without being intrusive and are perfectly timed, particularly the lovely chord that sounds as the guitar strums. It is these little touches that show the professionalism of this company – and of course the white bonnet, which is certainly visible from the premium seats.
Ultimately the strength of this show lies with the six cast members. Emma J Leaver, the director, has found performers with confidence in their own versatility, who really throw themselves into the range of styles and characterisation needed to play all these parts. From Joseph Dickens’ first appearance as Big Willy, plenty of puns intended and liberally dispensed, he holds the stage whether a cowboy, an indecisive boyfriend or just deciding to come out of the closet; he has a stage presence which keeps the audience riveted. Laura Ellis as June, Juanita, Juny and many other permutations ‘busts out’ all over the stage with some winsome numbers which are impressively rendered. She is complemented by Penny Rodie’s, Abby, who powerfully delivers great advice, that usually results in a reminder that we are all going to die. The final key cast member is Daniel Saunders who clearly enjoys his role as Jitter, where he gets to dress up as the Phantom of the Opera, a Carol Channing drag queen and murder the three other cast members in a demonic Sweeney Todd moment.
Lucy Spreckley and Alex Yelland, are equally strong, and make up the ensemble which helps to boost numbers for the song and dance routines. Beautifully choreographed in the appropriate styles by Deborah Lean and her guest choreographers the final hat tipping, cane twirling parody of One from A Chorus Line leaves us toe-tapping and happy as we head home. This show is a great way to forget about storms, elections and coronavirus and just lose yourselves in the magic of the musicals on a wintery February evening.