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Bebop Spoken There

Miles Davis: "You know, if I walk into a club the guys hide the girls." (DownBeat July 18, 1974).


Today Monday January 21



Jazz in the Afternoon - Cullercoats Crescent Club, 1 Hudleston, Cullercoats NE30 4QS. Tel: 0191 253 0242. 1:00pm. Free.


Ruth Lambert Trio - Beaumont Hotel, Beaumont St, Hexham NE46 3LT. Tel: 01434 6022331. 7:00pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Side by Side by Sondheim - Bury Theatre and Players Theatre, Hurstpierpoint. Sept 25/26

(Review by Liz, our girl in York, in Hurstpierpoint)
A little bit of magic happened in the village of Hurstpierpoint last weekend. We were treated to the musical revue Side by Side by Sondheim by Gin Palace Productions as part of the Hurst Festival.
For those who are not familiar with the work of Stephen Sondheim, here we have one of the greatest musical theatre composers of all time. The man is a genius, he will move you to tears with his heart- breaking lyrics and split your sides with laughter at his pithy observations on love, lust, marriage and everything in between On the other hand, anyone familiar with Stephen Sondheim’s work knows it is tricky to pull off.
I first saw this Tony Award-winning musical at the Stables in Wavendon in the mid 70’s. That night, the home of the Dankworth’s, was a glittering occasion with the stars of the show, Millicent Martin, Julia Mackenzie, David Kernan and narration by Ned Sherrin. It raised the rafters. 
So here in Gin Palace Productions we have a trio of singers and a wonderfully gifted musical director bringing this sparkling musical revue to out doorsteps, working their socks off to showcase the many sides of a man who writes unforgettable songs that are heartbreakingly true and music that captures the heart.
A simple stage setting with minimum props began with our cast dressed immaculately in black and white. Let me introduce Samantha Nixon (right of pic), Frances Wise, Alasdair Carson-Sheard and, on piano, Musical Director Richard Coppack. Their pedigree is immaculate as we discover reading from the programme. They began with Comedy Tonight/Love is in the Air from A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, perfectly harmonised with a nice little explanation from Alasdair. This company dispensed with the usual narration from the wings, each member, when not actually singing, explained the storyline with comic asides giving the audience a flavour of what was to come.
Act 1 featured many numbers from Company and Follies dealing with the intricacies of marriage and relationships, subjects we could all identify with, judging by the titters from the audience. Highlights were many and particular mention must be made of Alasdair’s achingly sad I Remember Sky from Evening Primrose. His voice laced with emotion, timing perfect, and genuine tears, it was a magical moment. Such was the impact on the audience on that first night that no applause ensued, just a stunned silence.
Sam Nixon’s Broadway Baby was full of verve, and the duet Barcelona between her and Alasdair from Company was quite wonderful, she with her wide eyed naivety and he with his withering glances, the chemistry was spot on.
Frances Wise gave a wonderfully vampish performance with I Never Do Anything Twice. This performer, better known in the London area for her jazz background, was particularly good In The Boy From where humour abounded. Earlier, in the fast moving and tongue twisting lyric Getting Married Today, she excelled as Amy, along with Sam and; Alisdair interspersing with their take on her imminent wedding - or not! 
Who could fail to be moved by Alasdair’s Being Alive, with Bobby’s poignant plea building into a wonderful crescendo and the first act ending with an inspiring take on the Andrews Sisters and You Could Drive a Person Crazy from Company? 
Act 2 gave us the ever popular Send in the Clowns with Frances’ well portrayed Desiree Armfeldt to Alasdair’s Fredrik from A Little Night Music, and who could not fail to be moved by Sam Nixon’s so appealing Maria in I Have a Love, from West Side Story? her coupling with Frances was superb. Sam with her clear and pure soprano declaring her love and Fran’s A Boy Like That with her pleas for caution. Difficult though it is to avoid singling out more of these exquisite numbers, for this particular reviewer, my all-time favourite had to be Losing my Mind from Follies. This tortured lyric from Sam Nixon was in a class of its own. 
The evening was drawn to a close by a clever Conversation Piece embracing even more of Sondheim’s gems. It seemed we, the audience, just couldn’t get enough and the standing ovation proved it. 
Finally, a word about the musical Director, Richard Coppack. His juxtapositioning of notes was simply amazing, him being the only pianist in a production that normally has two. 
This company is one to watch, miss them at your peril!


Lance said...

Thanks Liz, not a jazz gig I know, but your writing gave it a jazz feeling and, for me, it brought the show alive, made me feel as if I'd been there.
Sondheim wrote some great stuff..

Liz said...

Well Lance, it is for me to thank you for spreading the good news to the readers of BSH, proud to be included...

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: I look forward to hearing from you.


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