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Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Russell’

Of course, I was never going to see all 15 Sondheim shows in his 80th year – there’s the one that takes place in a swimming pool that hasn’t to my knowledge ever been staged here, and the one that hasn’t yet had its UK premiere – but I thought it would be fun to pack in as many as I could; I’ll make 10 (counting one in concert). This was one of the ones I wasn’t expecting to catch, and given its scale certainly not a professional production in a room above a pub in that theatrical black hole known as Walthamstow!

When I dish out the awards, it won’t win the one for excellence, but I think it has the bravery & ambition award in the bag. After three people failed to return after the interval, there were three more on stage than in the audience – and the house was still half full on a tube strike evening!

Though it has some of his best songs (Broadway Baby, I’m Still Here, Losing My Mind…..)I’ve rarely engaged with the story of retired follies girls returning for the closure of the theatre and looking back at their lives, but Tim McArthur has done a good job of staging it and marshalling the 26 performers with some particularly good staging in Act II and I liked the arrangements for an ensemble of piano, cello, violin & flute (MD Aaron Clingham). Ye Olde Rose & Crown (yes!) is a faded Victorian pub so it was a somewhat appropriate venue and Fiona Russell worked wonders with what I suspect was a miniscule budget.

The last production of Follies I saw, at the even tinier Landor Theatre, was probably the best so making comparisons would be unfair. It also comes so soon after Sunday’s magnificent concert performance of Merrily We Roll Along. However, I don’t regret schlepping out to Walthamstow, even with travel difficulties, and I applaud All Star Productions for their contribution to the 80th – and all for £12 (40p per performer)!

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