Thursday, 10 July 2014


London Theatre Workshop, London


Directed by Alastair Knights

Corinne Priest, Kris Olsen, Emma Odell & Jay Worley rehearse

The Stephen Sondheim Society’s production of God was one of those rare occasions when expectations weren't just exceeded, they were smashed to pieces. OK, with Alex Parker MD'ing one should know that the standard would be excellent, but this hour long gig was virtually flawless.

The set saw four of the industry's emerging finest, deliver songs penned by assorted wits that were either about Sondheim or his compositions, or were clever pastiches of recognisable gems. And that was actually one of the reasons that set this evening of new talent apart from so many similar gigs. The songs were knowing, witty and sparkling, with no introspective or muddled mediocrity from one song cycle or another that can so often bog down new writing, to be found. Both the satire and the talent were fabulous.

All four performers kicked off proceedings with Notes, a smugly witty number from Parker himself, lyrics by Katie Lam, that weaved a series of in-jokes around a Sondheim medley. Kris Olsen and Jay Worley then delivered a new and improved Cole Porter classic, cheekily re-branded as Brush Up Your Sondheim. Both guys were to shine in solo or leading numbers too, Worley notably with Andrew Lippa's wistfully autobiographical Marshall Levin whilst Olsen delivered a spoof on Sondheim's Sunday, cafe references adding a "Brunch" to the song's title. Olsen's victorious assault on Schwartz's Popular from Wicked, re-badged as Hummable, was another of the evening’s humorous highlights. 

Corinne Priest, this year's winner of the Sondheim Society Student Performer Of The Year proved her worth with a poise and presence that matched her vocal performance, never bettered than in Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim, with Emma Odell completing the quartet and mastering the linguistic minefield of Musical Theatre a song that demanded a breakneck rendition of show titles over the years.

As the star-studded cast of Forbidden Broadway garner deserved praise at the Menier Chocolate Factory for their razor sharp de-construction of genre classics, what Alastair Knights' company achieve at Fulham's bijou London Theatre Workshop is no less impressive. Too late perhaps for Edinburgh this year, the show is a glittering fascinator that makes for a gorgeous addition to any city's fringe.

Runs until 12th July 2014

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