Posts Tagged ‘James Williams’

I think the first Burt Bacharach song I heard was Anyone Who Had A Heart, in the version by Cilla Black (My first crush and I wasn’t even a teenager. Just). More than 30 years later I was still listening to his songs, this time in a superb collaboration with new musical hero Elvis Costello. More than 15 years on again this glorious homage opens with that first song, just days after we lost Cilla, so it was a bittersweet but beautiful opening to a faultless show, with the penultimate song Alfie, from which the show’s title is taken, also forever linked with Cilla. I absolutely adored it.

Over the course of ninety minutes we get around 30 songs – complete ones, medleys, mash-ups, individual song lines and melodies weaving in and out, and there isn’t a dud amongst them. They’ve been arranged in a variety of different styles including rock, regaee & blues, as solos, ensemble pieces and various combinations of the seven performers. It’s captivating. A veritable musical feast.

The Menier stage seems huge. It’s covered in a patchwork of carpet, littered with standard lamps and table lamps. There’s sofa and easy chair seating at several levels at the sides and sofas elevated at the back, with musical instruments hanging between. There are even two revolves! I smiled when I first saw Christine Jones & Brett J Banakis design and it brought a great intimacy and cosiness to the evening.

Steven Hoggett’s staging and movement is inspired. It makes the evening flow as one. Every movement is carefully choreographed, yet it seems completely natural, as if the lyrics propel the movement. There is a moment where the change of a guitar becomes an embrace which continues as a dance as the song is sung. It’s hard to describe such an intuitive and organic show except to say it’s as beautiful to watch as it is to hear.

Four of the US cast have been joined by three British / Irish newbies and they’re all brilliant. Not only has he conceived the show and arranged the music, Kyle Riabko is MD, multi-instrumentalist and lead singer. He must have performed this more than a hundred times but it felt like he was doing it for the first time. A towering performance of his own inspired arrangements.

This was one of the most perfect evenings I have ever spent in the theatre and when we got outside we were greeted by the cast busking a ukulele version of Raindrops Keep Falling On Your Head; a lovely way to send us home. Don’t even think about missing this.

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