Over the Rainbow
Paul Johnson | 04 Oct 2011 01:35am
‘Over the Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story’ is a heartfelt tribute to her life. The show takes a look at Eva’s life from the age of 14 until her death at 33 and is clearly a show devised by fans of the singer who achieved posthumous worldwide recognition with the release of the album ‘Songbird’. Vocal performances throughout the show were fantastic with Sarah Jane Buckley in the title role giving truthful renditions of her songs, a lot of hard work and research was evident in her performance of the numbers. She was strongly supported by an excellent cast of actor-musicians comprising James Gorton, Maureen Nolan, Brian Fortuna, Alexis Strum, Jonathan Parker, Nick Sayce and Robert Grose with solid musical direction from Martin Hughes. Jukebox musicals such as this, where familiar songs are used as the score for the show, are an effective way for fans to celebrate the artist’s achievements. However, the script did sometimes suffer with heavily contrived ways of introducing the next number – “let’s sing mum’s favourite song” or “why don’t I go and get us some lemonade and you can sing to me” – and it is interesting to note that where the show felt most natural and interesting was when Eva was performing at the Blues Alley Club and the songs came thick and fast as they would have at that concert. The show never really explored any of the potentially interesting aspects of Eva’s life, such as her relationship with Chris Biondo (Jonathan Parker) – they hinted at how they got together and then three scenes later that they’d separated without really giving any suggestion of the time-scale over which this happened or allowing the chemistry or romance to develop before it finished! The creators wanted to produce a tribute to Eva Cassidy which celebrated her life and work, but due to the cliched lines, the projection of Eva growing up in a happy family (albeit a few arguments with her father), having this fantastic talent but never being entirely happy with it or trusting in her ability, being loved by Chris but inexplicably ending their relationship, I thoroughly failed to connect to her which means I never truly cared about what was going on in her career and life. The final scenes dealing with her cancer were, again, so clichéd that it almost undermined the sadness of her demise and the loss this meant to the music industry. This could have had real power but due to the script this potential was never achieved. You couldn’t do a show about Eva Cassidy without looking at her death, but if the events which preceded this moment had been more celebratory and joyful it would have been a much better tribute. The producers would naturally assume that the audience will mostly be Eva Cassidy fans and therefore the heavy-handed sentimentality can be forgiven to a certain extent. It does, however, exclude those members of the audience who need further knowledge and detail of Eva’s life in order to understand and relate to her. The performers never lost their energy or integrity throughout the show and did the best they could with what they had been given, particularly Robert Grose as Chuck Brown whose scenes entirely lifted the piece and gave an excellent antidote to the saccharine interactions between Eva and her family. If you are not a fan of Eva Cassidy before this show, it may widen your knowledge of her music and open you up to the possibility of listening to her albums, but it doesn’t encourage you to like her as a person and I do not feel that I learned anything new about her from this production. Eva Cassidy fans will, however, most likely enjoy this for the renditions of her songs.
- : admin
- : 15/09/2011