Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Night In With The Boys at the Theatre Museum, Covent Garden

We are just back from watching the Chorus’ Small Group performing at the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden. It was a small, quite intimate venue but it was one hell of a good show they put on. The music was mostly selected from the Chorus’ past and present repertoire, so I knew almost all of the pieces and even some of the ones which were new to the Chorus.

They started with A New World an ensemble piece built up from numerous solos and with a real supportive, positive feel to it – although the intense, taut look on Raman G’s face at the front of the group made him look a bit like a psychopath ready to consume your liver with a nice Chianti!

They followed that with The Rhythm Of Life, one of their standing repertoire, which they always do well; it’s kind of a fun piece with a slightly aggressive undertone in the way they choreograph it which adds positively to its impact.

If You Were Gay, from Avenue Q was done entertainingly by Neil H and followed by two more of the Small Group’s previous repertoire; Me And My Shadow and Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love.)

Allan E did a fine turn with Painting The Clouds With Sunshine; he has a wonderfully expressive face and knows how to use it to add layers of meaning to the words of a song.

Hello Dolly, which I think is another core repertoire piece, was followed by Rich C singing Heaven Help My Heart from Chess. Rich can sometimes be a little underconfident when singing, so I imagine it was a bit of a trial for him to do a solo – especially with his parents in the audience – but he carried it off sensitively and without a hint of nerves.

That was followed by Simon R singing Bless Your Beautiful Hide from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He managed to warm the audience up nicely with a little humour before his performance which was beautifully toned. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Simon, so seeing him seductively dressed in formal dress trousers and an open-necked starched shirt and singing so well had me quite doe-eyed!

Seasons Of Love from Rent, is part of the main Chorus’ repertoire and had Ping in tears (I think because he hadn’t been expecting it and it obviously has some resonance for him now.) The first half finished with a solo-and-ensemble arrangement of Somewhere from West Side Story. It included an unexpected bass-line harmony towards the end which Brett liked but I wasn’t totally sure about, maybe because I’m not used to hearing it, maybe because it’s not the way I would have written it – but then those who can, do – and those who can’t, criticise…

The second half opened with the familiar All Girl Band which is always an energetic crowd-pleaser and was well done. Marry Me A Little from Sondheim’s Company is one of my favourite songs, describing what I think a good marriage should be; a joining not a merging of two individuals. PK, Chris P, Rich C and John M got the harmonies and the feeling just right.

This was followed by the much more humorous Dance 10, Looks 3 (a.k.a. Tits and Ass) from A Chorus Line done with aplomb by Paul H, one of our longest standing members.

Another Sondheim piece I’ve always been fond of is the title number of Company (it was the opening number of my first ever Chorus performance – and Brett [The first time I noticed him!] was singing the solo that day.) Ron D sang the role of Bobby tonight, but didn’t quite have the something that Brett’s performance gave me…

Two pieces that really did have ‘something’ were Someone To Fall Back On, sung by Neil H and Marc D, which was so lovely and moving it brought tears to my eyes, and Where I Want To Be (one of the lesser-known numbers from Chess) which was performed better than I have ever heard it done before by Nic B; he really brought the meaning of the words home as Simon’s piano alternately drove him on and reined him in. Both were incredibly sensitive and evocative performances

All I Care About Is Love from Chicago and Carole King’s Natural Woman respectively separated and followed them to lift the mood with some campery – although I have to say that throughout the show, while they followed the normal Chorus procedure of augmenting the numbers with humour and some choreography, it didn’t feel overdone at all, which it sometimes can with the main Chorus; tonight’s show managed to achieve just the right balance; the extras added to the performance, but the singing was always the star.

The show closed with a reprise of A New World, which lost none of its inspirational feeling the second time around – even with psycho-Raman taking point again!

I came away feeling properly entertained and very proud to be associated with our Small Group. Both a video and an audio recording of the show were made tonight, so I shall be watching out for a copy of at least one of them and more than likely buying tickets to one or both of the repeats of this show later in the year.

After such a fine night out, it seems a shame to have to go to work tomorrow…

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