As part of it’s 35th anniversary celebrations Lichfield Musical Youth Theatre are presenting a concert series in the city’s new arts venue The Hub, featuring alumni from the company, many of whom have gone on to train professionally in the performing arts and, in many cases, secure work in the business.
This concert of The Music of Stephen Sondheim is the first of these ventures, and sees LYMT’s Artistic Director and MD Oliver Rowe, himself a performing alumnus of the company, take to the stage with four former members of the Youth Theatre. The concert has been put together, as these fundraising ventures often are, with minimal rehearsal time (the guest performers are now based all over the country), and as a result there were a few moments during this first performance where people were not as assured as I’m sure they would have liked to be. But that being said, when things worked well, the audience were treated to some wonderful performances, drawn from the full range of Sondheim’s shows.
From one of his earliest works Nichole Morrin gave a powerful and assured performance of Some People (Gypsy), as well as the sardonic Could I leave you (Follies). Dan Breakwell was especially effective in the title song from Anyone Can Whistle. And his delivery of Hello Little Girl from Into The Woods, with Rebecca Newman as Little Red Riding Hood, was suitably creepy. Mr Rowe himself demonstrated a very good light tenor, especially in the less well known Finishing The Hat (Sunday in the Park with George). And it was another number from that same show, the powerful Move On, performed by Mr Breakwell and the final soloist Lizzie Wofford, which proved one of the emotional highlights of the evening.
Miss Wofford possess a powerhouse voice, but also the acting skills to match it. These were especially well displayed in the sarcastic Ladies who lunch (Company) and the tour de force The Worst Pie in London (Sweeney Todd).
It was good to hear some songs from the less familiar Sondheim scores, especially Unworthy of your love from Assassins (Mr Rowe and Miss Newman) and a couple of great songs written for the Warren Beatty film of Dick Tracy. The ladies all had a whale of a time vamping it up as Mazeppa, Electra and Tessitura, the three burlesque dancers in You Gotta Get A Gimmick (Gypsy).
The evening was supported by an excellent 7 piece band led from the piano by Ian Stephenson, arrangements by Jack Hopkins, and presented in the exquisite surroundings of The Hub at St Mary’s, a venue very well suited for this format of evening.
All in all a great way for LMYT to begin celebrating it’s 35th Anniversary.
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