Wednesday, 13 February 2019

REVIEW: The Clockmaker’s Daughter

You may not be familiar with the writing duo Webborn & Finn, but that’s all about to change. Their first full-length musical, The Clockmaker’s Daughter premiered in London in 2015 and went on to critical acclaim, multiple sell out runs, and eleven award nominations to date.

The original musical faerytale has released a concept album featuring a star studded cast including Christine Allado (Hamilton, In The Heights), Fra Fee (The Ferryman West End & Broadway, Les Misérables West End & film), Ramin Karimloo (Anastasia, Phantom of the Opera), Hannah Waddingham (Kiss Me Kate and HBO’s Game of Thrones), Matthew Croke (Aladdin,Funny Girl), Lauren James Ray (Wicked, Putting It Together Hope Mill Theatre) and Graham Hoadly (Fame National Tour, Guys & Dolls Kilworth House). 

The Clockmaker’s Daughter is set in the fictional Irish town of Spindlewood and has what can be described as a modern folk score. While there are elements of folk music interwoven throughout the songs, they also vary widely in style to include everything from ballads and patter songs. The album opens with “The Turning of the Key” which is the strange ritual the townsfolk take part in every year as spring unfolds. This first track sets the stage for the story to be told and conveys a feeling of community as the talented ensemble is heavily featured. 

The cast was expertly selected and each one gives a brilliant vocal performance. Christine Allado is both inspiring and haunting in the portrayal of her character’s journey. In “A Story of my Own” she delivers a classic musical theater ‘I want’ song with grace and power. There is a duality to her character and she effortlessly conveys both naivety and righteous anger. 

Fra Fee’s character is an outlier in the community and his songs have a slightly different melodic quality to them. In many of the tracks his status as an outsider allows the listener to see through his eyes and be lead by him. His charm makes him an ideal narrator, especially on “Spindlewood.” 

A tragedy has befallen Ramin Karimloo’s character which is the catalyst for the musical’s events. “You’re Still Here” has a dark tone and he pours emotion into it that reflects the depth of his loss. Conversely, his voice soars with hope on “Impossible.” 

As both a villain and a source of comic relief, Hannah Waddingham’s character has an essence of Mrs. Lovett. She delivers a flawless and humorous performance of “A Modern Modiste,” while being equally adept at her sinister vocals on later tracks including “A Town Meeting.”

Webborn and Finn have created a truly incredible book and score. The lyrics are endlessly clever which keep the listener engaged throughout. There is a sense of magic in all of the songs befitting of the modern day fairy tale. Each track is evocative and arranged beautifully. Multiple musical elements including staccato notes and varied time signatures are used creatively to convey the feeling of a ticking clock. This is used throughout the score to signify the passing of time, heighten anxiety, but most effectively, it imparts the mob mentality and routine of the town that resists disruption. The album is a masterclass in storytelling through song.

With rich orchestrations, compelling lyrics, and the voices of some of the West End’s biggest stars, The Clockmaker’s Daughter has all of the key ingredients for an excellent and engaging concept album. After listening to it just once I am really intrigued to see what the future holds for this unique and spellbinding new musical. 

Review by Laura Talbot

Rating: ★★★★★
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