Pros: A selection of musical numbers that you won’t very often hear performed by some West End voices.
Cons: A little more rehearsal time may have been helpful. Some diva diamante would also have brought a little glamour.
The Leicester Square Theatre was the venue for this one-off show. The venue is located in the centre of the theatre district and the auditorium generally opens half an hour before curtain up where there are two bars conveniently located at either side of the main seating area.
It was billed as a night of leading lady, show-stopping songs from musicals that have fallen by the wayside over the years. Boasting names from the West End, the six divas were Ashleigh Gray (Wicked), Rebecca Trehearn (Ghost – The Musical), Sarah French (We Will Rock You), Kirby Lunn (Hairspray), Jennifer Potts (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and Ambra Caserotti (RENT!).
James Barron was the convivial host for the evening, whose theatre credits include Javert in Les Misérables and all three dads in Mamma Mia. He provided smooth links between all the songs and treated the audience to some theatrical anecdotes. Although his Brian Blessed story may have been a little risqué for some audience members, he did give fair warning beforehand and was rewarded with much laughter.
James Doughty was at the piano and a young choir from the Musical Theatre Academy (MTA), provided the musical accompaniment and vocal backing. The songs had been chosen from a wide variety of Broadway and West End shows, many of which had closed somewhat earlier than planned. Lestat – the vampiric story by Anne Rice (musical score by Elton John and Bernie Taupin); The Fix by (Dempsey and Rowe); Twang by (Lionel Bart); Carrie the Musical, etc.
The only tune that I was familiar with was Kiss of the Spider Woman from the hit show of the same name by Kander and Ebb. This was a high point for me and made me long for a few better known numbers, even if they were smaller songs from bigger shows as opposed to the bigger songs from lesser shows. Some of these musicals failed for good reason and maybe they should be allowed to rest in peace.
I don’t know how much time everyone had to rehearse beforehand but some voices were definitely more powerful than others. It meant that at time the voices of some singers were at a comfortable sound level whilst at other times I was expecting all the bottles at the bar to shatter. Voice projection is great when you have space to project into but this theatre is in a basement and all on one level, with no tiers of balconies to accommodate the volume.
The divas were all well received by the audience. The voices of Gray and French stood out for me; while Potts’ performance was cheeky, charming and engaging. There were a few points at which some voices struggled to hit notes. I don’t know if this was down to inadequate rehearsal, or warm up, or just bad luck on the night.
One other minor let down were the costumes. The term ‘diva’ conjures up images of slinky gowns and opulent jewels. Call me old-fashioned but I do like some sequins or diamante on the right occasion and this was such an occasion in my book.
The audience were audibly enthusiastic and appreciative throughout the 1 ¼ hour programme of songs and departed happily at the end of their musical fix.
Author: Jonathan Metcalf
Director: Brian McCann
Musical Director: James Doughty
Booking Link: http://www.leicestersquaretheatre.com/home
Booking Until: 22th September 2013