Theatre: Make Me A Song



All I'm asking for is a tune
Something itchy to tap my toes to
Something that in late afternoon
Makes high strung boys collapse... (Make Me A Song - William Finn)


I have been familiar with the music of William Finn for a little over five years now... This is not long for a groupie, but after seeing a performance of Falsettos with the opening number "Four Jews In A Room Bitching" I knew his music was going to be my cup of tea. While the subject matter (brain tumours, Bar Mitzvahs etc) I am not always able to relate to, the themes, issues and the humour his work explores I have loved. And since my Falsettos moment, I have made a point of finding the rest of his music. This has led to me laughing out loud on the tube (always a good way to get labelled a freak) listening to Infinite Joy and relishing the chance of being a disciplined non-hammy speller on Broadway.

But the fact that his music hasn't really had a decent showing in London has always bothered me. Perhaps it is the sentiment I have heard around here that his music is regarded disparagingly as "a bit off Broadway". Then again, for a city that doesn't have such an institution to develop new work and would rather keep running revivals of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat I suppose that has to be put in perspective.

Anyway, all this can be forgiven now that Make Me A Song - a musical revue of Finn's music featuring some of West End's finest - Louise Dearman, Frances Ruffelle, Gareth Snook, Simon Thomas, Sally Ann Triplett and Ian H Watkins - is playing at the New Players Theatre. With so many fabulous songs sung by such a fabulous cast it was a real treat...

When the show is this good you could get a bit prissy about the production and hope that as the run goes on that the lighting hits the actors better, Sally Ann Triplett doesn't have to keep moving the furniture about during the number "All Fall Down", they all remember the lyrics, and Ian H gets a more flattering wardrobe. But none of it really mattered. Actually on the wardrobe point Finn was there in the audience looking very comfy in his t-shirt, trousers and crocs so maybe Ian's baggy trousers and lumpy jumper was deliberate. It was nice to see with Finn his "this is how it is" attitude in his music extends to his attire, particularly since the rest of the audience were dressed to the nines... The show runs until 6 April... Hopefully a cast album will be in the works too...

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