Reviewed by Fran Edwards
It is not for nothing that Stephen Sondheim‘s last name is often jokingly spelt without the ‘n’! His music is not easy, not easy for the musicians and definitely not easy for the singers! However it is easy to listen to, especially when it is well done.
Director Kate Anolak and Musical Director Rodney Hrvatin had some fine singers to work with, although, as Anolak pointed out in her notes you need more than a good voice to perform Sondheim songs.
This varied program had a mixture of well loved and virtually unknown songs, some sung as intended in the production they were written for, some given a new interpretation for this production. Naturally some are more successful than others.
The opening song, Comedy Tonight from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, was a disappointment. It seemed to lack punch, something I have never thought of this song before. However things improved, If Momma Was Married (Gypsy) and You Must Meet My Wife (A Little Night Music) put things back on track and ably displayed the talents of Emma Bargery, Lucy Carey, April Stuart and Timothy Ide.
There are too many numbers to discuss them all, so I’ll try to discuss the singers. Cara Brown disappointed with Another Hundred People (Company), but more than redeemed herself with Losing My Mind (Follies). Lauren Scarfe and Bargarey sang well and amused in Can That Boy Foxtrot (Follies) and again, this time with Carey, in You Could Drive a Person Crazy (Company) – my favourite.
Stuart showed her ability to characterise, firstly in I Never Do Anything Twice (The Seven Percent Solution), Send In The Clowns (A Little Night Music) and then with Bethaney Ide in A Boy Like That (West Side Story), all delivered beautifully. Ide was also at her best in Barcelona (Company) with Ide and on her own in Anyone Can Whistle (Anyone Can Whistle). Ide also did an unusual, but excellent, version of Could I Leave You (Follies).
Displaying his talent for the comic, Mark De Laine joined Brown for The Little Things We Do Together (Company) and Bargrey for We’re Gonna Be Alright (Do I Hear A Waltz). Callum Byrne sang beautifully in I Remember (Evening Primrose) and joined forces with Ide and De Laine to deliver a very different Pretty Lady (Pacific Overtures)
The cast were very ably supported by the MD Hrvatin and Kristin Stefanoff on piano providing beautiful accompaniment. The finishing numbers Conversation Piece and Side by Side really pulled the cast together as an ensemble, finishing on a high note.