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Friday, 18 December 2020

REVIEW: Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz at (Online)

For a title referencing perhaps Stephen Schwartz’s best-known musical, and a troupe of nine singers comprised of past cast members, it’s surprising that only one Wicked song appears in this well-put-together online revue and celebration of Schwartz’s work. However, that is in no way a disappointment, with a fine selection of the composer and lyricist’s back catalogue from both stage and screen on offer: Pippin, Children of Eden, Pocahontas, Godspell and The Prince of Egypt all feature, and are performed with the level of passion and craft we expect to see from such musical theatre talent. 

The audience is initially greeted by the very man himself, sat, of course, at a piano; a charming nod to the old televised format of musical revues we now find ourselves returning to in the absence of live performance. Schwartz’s career spans over four decades, and this whistle-stop tour of some of his more famous works is a great introduction for those unfamiliar with his work, as well as an enjoyable trip down memory lane for existing fans. 

Friday, 18 September 2020

REVIEW: Pippin at the Garden Theatre

The Garden Theatre was one of the first venues to stage a live theatrical production with Fanny and Stella, with more shows popping up and more announcements being made every day they haven’t stopped and they continue their season with a newly staged version of Stephen Schwartz Pippin. 

I last saw this show at the Southwark Playhouse in the transfer production from the Hope Mill Theatre, being a huge fan of this particular version I was excited to see another interpretation of this interesting piece. 

As I said before in my review of Fanny and Stella, the venue and the staff are doing everything they possibly can to make this a safe and comfortable experience for all of their patrons. All staff have protective masks on and the bar is covered with screens, they’ve sure stepped up their game since my last visit! The bar itself has a really great atmosphere, made even better by people eager and excited to see some live theatre. The staff are all so polite and accommodating and the venue should really be proud of their front of house team. 

When you enter the theatre you are instantly transported to the world of the show, the smell of incense and the sound of 60’s music mixed with news broadcasts immediately sets the scene. Putting the show in the context of the ’60s was an interesting and brave choice, I’m not sure it was completely justified within the production but it certainly made sense most of the time. I may have felt like some choices in this production may not have completely worked but they sure committed to every single one of them and for that I commend them. 
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