Tuesday, 25 July 2017

REVIEW: Candide at Cadogan Hall with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra

On Friday the 21st of July, London Musical Theatre Orchestra brought in it’s concert form Leonard Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ to Cadogan Hall. The arches of the hall are the backdrop to the talent that awaits it’s expecting audience. 

The choices LMTO have made for this concert are simply perfect from their chorus and musicians to those singing the lead parts, everything jells together so well. 

Candide follows the story of a young man who believes in Optimism and lives his life accordingly. Although through the story more and more unfortunate events happen he stays optimistic. Through wars and inquisitions, balloon rides, El Dorado, Paris, Love, heartbreak. There is so much that happens against Candide, most of which are random occurrences that it’s difficult to pin down a storyline, but it sums up as the pursuit of happiness. 

Heading up the phenomenal cast is an comedic actor who graced out television for years, James Dreyfus and after giving us a very in depth introduction to the creation of Candide as it is today, after rewrites and revisions, additions and subtractions, lyrical amendments and scriptural addendum etc etc. Dreyfus is not only the narrator to keep the audience up to speed with the events but plays two other parts Dr Pangloss and Martin. His job as narrator is engaging and masterful. Comedy runs through the whole piece and he carries it well.

Candide is sung by Rob Houchen. His voice is truly amazing. To sing the part of Candide you need to have the line and subtly of a lyric Mozart tenor one moment and then the force and strength of a Wagner tenor and Houchen ticks all of these boxes. Unfortunately, due to how heavy Candide’s character development relies on script, which has been left out in this version, in the second act the character only simmers with development. 

The one song you can name from Candide is always ‘Glitter and be Gay’ made famous by Kristen Chenoweth and for LMTO the part of Cunegonde is being played by Anna O’Byrne; there is no other word for her voice other than transcendental. It resonates throughout Cadogan hall and it’s even bigger than the hall itself. Her rendition of the aforementioned song is sublime. The comedy is just as accurate as the notes and is consistent throughout. 

Supporting the principle singers are the LMTO and their chorus led by Freddie
Tapner. Each note is stroked, plucked and sung with accuracy, each harmony is pitch perfect; there area times where the lyrics are lost as music and chorus intertwine but this isn’t attributed to the quality of the singers or orchestra. 

It’s very unfortunate that LMTO are only playing for one night. They are truly marvellous to listen to. This concert should be given a lot more time to be seen and enjoyed. The atmosphere was ecstatic as the audience left wanting more. If this is anything to go by LMTO are truly formidable and should be enjoyed by everyone. 

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra next bring ‘Mack and Mabel’ to Cadogan Hall on the 23rd of September and should not be missed.

Review by James-Lee Campbell

Rating: ★★★★★

Photo credit: Nick Rutter
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