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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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At the start of the Opera Locos performance, the announcement says that they really are singing. You could be forgiven for wondering that, given the amplification turns up the backing track and the voices so loud that you can't always tell what's real. But this is a mostly harmless and slightly eccentric blend of opera classics fused with the occasional pop classic. However, recognising the pop tunes would help if you were over a certain age. The most recent of them dates back twenty years. It's currently playing at the Peacock Theatre .  Five performers play out a variety of archetype opera characters. There's the worn-out tenor (Jesús Álvarez), the macho baritone (Enrique Sánchez-Ramos), the eccentric counter-tenor (Michaël Kone), the dreamy soprano (María Rey-Joly) and the wild mezzo-soprano (Mayca Teba). Since my singing days, I haven't recognised these types of performers. However, once, I recall a conductor saying he wanted no mezzo-sopranos singing with the s

Patter songs: I Love You You're Perfect, Now Change

A short run of the show I Love You, You're Perfect Now Change at the Riverside Studios Hammersmith is a pleasant enough diversion, although you get the feeling it is more fun performing it than watching it.

Performers must love it as the cast of four manage to sing in a variety of styles from country to cantata. They  also run through a variety of roles from young nervous daters to old Jews at a funeral home (well, it is set in New York). This cast are great and manage to make the most of the material and the comic possibilities. But after awhile it becomes clear there isn't much variety in the work and each song tends to blend together. For the most part they are trite and forgettable. There is an occasional gem such as a ballad in the first half when the girl who finally manages to land a date proclaims, "I will be loved tonight" with such such desperation you are left wondering about her fate. In the second half there is an amusing song about being a bridesmaid, but it is all rather tame - even for show written in 1996 - and the endless scenes of women pretending to be interested in their dates, parents over excited about their babies feels quite dated now.

It might have worked better in a smaller space than the Riverside studios... And a space with less furniture... It seems to be an awful habit of these sorts of shows to make the actors work as if they are furniture movers. Future productions would be better off skipping that trip to Ikea or borrowing whatever they find backstage at Riverside...

Nevertheless it is a successful Off-Broadway show that has been translated into many languages... But then again so is the Fantasticks. Most interesting as an early work of writer Joe DiPietro (who has gone on to bigger things in the musical theatre world) and composer Jimmy Roberts. It is also no doubt essential viewing for any musical theatre student as well...

It runs through to Sunday... Go with a notebook... The views from the jaded (with Johnnyfoxlondon) follow...

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