Posts Tagged ‘Michael Riley’

This is a compilation of songs from the shows of Kander & Ebb. They wrote 15 musicals (I’ve only managed to catch 8 of them), the most famous of which are of course Cabaret & Chicago. What makes them unique, in my view, is the diversity of subjects (a bit like Sondheim) and the way they matched musical styles to their subjects. This features songs from the first ten shows plus the now iconic New York, New York and other songs from the same film.

There’s more staging and choreography than such shows normally get and you have to admire the look of Kirk Jameson’s production. There’s an elegance and sophistication to it which makes it stand out from the crowd of similar shows. We’re more used to hearing these songs backed by a band, but the solo piano worked for me, particularly as it allowed it to be refreshingly unamplified. Tom Boucher’s lighting was a key part of the look, but the noisiness of the movement of the spots sometimes detracted.

I’m less familiar with these songs than those of Sondheim, but I’m not sure they stand alone as well. I wasn’t keen on some of the rearrangements, particularly those from Cabaret, and not all songs suited the singer. A multi-lingual NewYork New York was an inspired idea, though. There was some unevenness in performance, though Emma Francis shone throughout. MD & pianist Michael Riley provided fine accompaniment. The five dancers, choreographed by Sam Spencer Lane and most making their professional debuts, animated the songs and turned it into more of a show than a concert.

Kander & Ebb’s body of work is probably second only to Sondheim, though we see a lot less of it. This show provides an excellent opportunity to hear great songs like Arthur in the Afternoon and Sara Lee that you are unlikely to hear elsewhere as well as the handful like All That Jazz and Cabaret that have become standards. Go see for yourself.

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