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Belters and bohemians: Opera Locos @Sadlers_wells

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

A frightfully fun afternoon: Lost Musicals and Words and Music

I've never been to a Lost Musicals event before, but it is quite a treat, and an opportunity to catch rarely performed or obscure shows that may have been undeservedly ignored when first staged. The obscure show in question this time around was a 1932 Noel Coward revue called Words and Music.

Coward's idea, following various successes in the early 1930s was to present a revue with no stars. The songs and sketches that explore Coward's usual fascination with stars, class and manners. The show  was not the success it was expected to be and quickly disappeared. A few years later it opened on Broadway but also was not a success.

Of the sketches, one seemed particularly amusing in which children act like their parents, smoking and drinking martinis. Many of the songs have since become standards in their own right such as "Mad about the Boy." The song "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" is also delivered with such freshness and energy by the cast that you feel as if they could have been written yesterday. Given the revue was written in the depression the references to bankers and economic crisis made it feel all the more like it was new.

Lost Musicals is a charity that operates to give London audiences an opportunity to see neglected and forgotten works. They are read rather than staged, but the performances are great and there is a lively piano accompaniment. But with simple staging you are soon taken into the world of the lost show, or in this case, a lost revue.

The actors give their time for free and it is a great chance to see some stars of the West End, such as Holly Dale Spencer, who was excellent as Bianca in the Old Vic's production of Kiss Me Kate, play a series of other goofy blond characters, including one who only has a talent for wearing a feather in her hair.

A frightfully fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon... Assuming that the Northern Line is running to Angel... Or if you don't mind a brisk walk from Kings Cross to make it. Words and Music  is running one more time tomorrow... The season of Lost Musicals continues with Holly Golightly and Around the World later in the year...

Production photo featuring Issy van Randwyck, James Vaughan, Holly Dale-Spencer and musical director Ian Townsend in Words and Music

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