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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

Jerry’s Children: Showtune @TheUniontheatre

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An evening of songs by composer Jerry Herman weaved into a song cycle about the excitement of being on stage, or anywhere for that matter is an unexpected joy. Particularly when it's sung by a young and energetic cast. It's currently playing at the Union Theatre . It's been over thirty years since an original Jerry Herman musical has been on stage. That none of the cast were born when these songs were written probably isn't lost on the audience.  But Herman's work remains almost a regular feature of the West End as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita or Joseph. Recent years have seen La Cage Aux Folles, Hello Dolly! Or Mack and Mabel.  For a period from the sixties through to the early eighties, Jerry Herman wrote musicals that helped define the idea of what a musical show should be. Emotional, funny and always tuneful.   Now there's a chance for a new generation of musical theatre graduates to take on his work. With the young cast of ten performer

Inspired compilations: Pure Imagination @St_JamesTheatre @pureonstage

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As the lights go down suddenly the familiar tune from the film Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory floats down from around the St James Theatre . And thus begins the journey into the world of the songs of Leslie Bricusse with the revue Pure Imagination. It could easily be called a journey through the last fifty years or so of music, as it does feel like it is a showcase of some of the most popular songs from stage and film. Part of the fun is realising so many of them were written or co-written by one man.

It’s not where you start: Songs for A New World @St_JamesTheatre

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Twenty years after it first premiered Off-Broadway, the song-cycle / revue Songs For A New World at the St James Theatre serves as a useful introduction to composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown’s early work. It’s initially exciting to watch four accomplished performers (mostly) handle his vocally demanding work. But the effect of 90 minutes of his music straight through makes you feel as if you are trapped in a world that is a bit repetitive. It starts out spectacularly with the opening number “The New World”, a song about starting over. And then there is a song about endings, another about loss, and another about new beginnings. By the half way point, the limitations of the music become apparent.