Posts Tagged ‘Jill Naider’

It’s lovely sitting in a small room above a (soon to re-open) wine bar watching the first ever professional performance of Ivor Novello’s last (unfinished) musical, written a year before I was born and set in the land of my fathers. In some ways surreal, but rather delightful. Deeply old-fashioned, but completely charming.

The first act takes place in fictional valley town Cromidris in the summer of 1913. Highly successful local businesswoman Nan Brewster is the benefactor of the local choir. She impulsively decides to retire to Venice, taking her three retainers – Olwen, Gwilim and Lily – with her. This nips the romance of choirmaster David and his muse Lily in the bud. In Venice, Lily’s singing career takes off under the patronage of Count Favero, until the count’s background is uncovered by Nan. Lily stops singing and not even the arrival of David can bring her out of her depression. Back in Wales in the winter of 1914, the first world war has started and Nan has turned her home into a hospital, with the three retainers helping her run it and Lily still in the dumps. David has by now gone to the front, but his return as a patient rekindles the flames and it all ends happily.

It’s plot is a bit clunky and it’s perhaps a little sweet & sentimental for a modern audience, but the score is excellent (I don’t know how much he finished and how much Ronald Hanmer added, but you can’t see the joins!) and here it’s beautifully sung with just piano accompaniment by Adam Morris. Romantic leads Katy Treharne and Linford Hydes have the perferct soprano and tenor voices for Novello’s music and they do full justice to these lovely songs. Lee van Geleen has stepped in to play the more comic role of Gwilim and aquits himself very well indeed. Sandy Walsh and Jill Naider’s characterisations of Nan and Olwen respectively are excellent and there are nice cameos from Harrison Ross as a cub reporter from the Swansea Argus, Richard Mark as baddie Favero and Amira as Gwilim’s Italian love interest Maria.The chorius of eight sound glorious and provide some of the shows highlights. 

It is dated and it is a bit sweet, but like Gay’s the Word here a couple of years ago, this is an unmissable opportunity to catch an unperformed show by a 20th century master. If you’re interested in the history of musical theatre, you should be one of only 650 people who are going to get to see it! 

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