Garrick Theatre, London
Take one gifted composer, six sensational solo artists and five fine musicians. Place them on a practically empty stage and let the music do the rest. This was exactly what happened at the Garrick this week when America songwriter Georgia Stitt, for one night only, made her West End debut.
In a cleverly arranged evening, act one comprised eleven solo numbers, with the second half a selection of songs for multiple voices. Impressive amongst the men were Jamie Muscato whose The Light Of The World was both powerful and moving. Norman Bowman joined Muscato to perform She, possibly one of the most stunning contemporary male duets written, with Bowman’s rendition of Sonnet XXIX making an excellent close to Act 1. A credit to both him and Stitt for taking some of Shakespeare’s most beautiful prose and so delicately fitting the words to music. Stitt’s confession that, having grown up in Memphis her style has been significantly influenced by the Blues, was more than evident in Simon Bailey’s incredibly cool performance of At This Turn In The Road Again, a song (along with many others) in which AJ Brinkman’s work on bass was a treat to listen to.
Notwithstanding the testosterone-fuelled talent on stage, it was the vocal acrobatics from Stitt’s three (leading) ladies that carried the evening’s killer punch. Their talents were never bettered than when Eva Noblezada, Caroline Sheen and Cynthia Erivo combined in an electric three-part harmony for Before I Lose My Mind. Sheen is a masterclass in herself in her, notably in her powerful The Baby Song, ingeniously fooling the audience with a comedic opening, only to end in tragedy. Erivo’s velvet voice quickly evolved into the trademark musical theatre power house, especially in Stitt’s hauntingly complex number The Wanting Of You. Finally, London newcomer and Miss Saigon star Noblezada displayed innocence and vulnerability combined with her faultless vocals in Almost Everything I Need.
Such a strong company needed no more set than the stark frame of The Garrick’s current production The Scottsboro Boys and it’s only a shame that gigs and material as good as this aren’t heard live more frequently. Let’s hope that Georgia Stitt won’t keep us waiting too long for her UK return.