Landor Theatre, London
Book, lyrics & music by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham
Directed by Robert McWhir
|Bart Edwards and Aaron Lee Lambert
Next Thing You Know is a freshly styled show, first produced off-Broadway in 2011 and now making its UK arrival off-West End, at London’s landmark launchpad for new musical theatre, the Landor in Clapham.
This is a show written by and about young professionals in New York City. It tracks young lovers Waverley and Darren, hurtling towards their 30’s and frustrated with both career and love life. Waverley’s best girlfriend Lisa (played by Amelia Cormack) is similarly disenchanted with the romantic vacuum that the city has becomed for her, whilst the final cast member is Darren’s colleague Luke. With scenes set around a Sullivan Street bar, an office, and assorted apartments, it presents a fairly drawn snapshot of contemporary city life.
Jennifer Pott’s Waverley is perfectly cast. She’s a mix of frustration and feistiness, wanting “more” from life, just not too sure what that “more” is. Vocally sweet and at all times convincingly portraying a young New York woman, she wraps up an intriguing combination of fragility and determination. Luke is played by Aaron Lee Lambert, a seasoned trouper not long out of playing Shrek’s Donkey. His gorgeous voice and assured presence allow him to carry off some of the show’s lighter funny moments with confidence and great timing. And I Breathe, a song about his hard to shake off love for an occasional cigarette, is a treat, whilst his double act with Darren (Bart Edwards), The Way To Get A Girl, recalls Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr.
Robert McWhir directing and Robbie O Reilly’s choreography, as always use the Tardis-like space of the Landor brilliantly, with routines that are skilful and subtle whilst Anna Michaels’ set design cleverly evokes the Big Apple as the action flits across the locations.
The 5 piece band under Michael Webborn’s direction are wonderful. Using strings and piano only, no wind or percussion, they remarkably conjure up a New York brashness from the opening bars of the Prelude. Throughout the show they are just a delight to listen to and a fabulous reminder of how much talent exists within London right now. Complementing Webborn’s band is Sarah Weltman’s sound design. Unusually for a Landor show, the cast is mic’d, an expensive add on for any fringe production. In this case the money has been very well spent as the mics are perfectly balanced, faded in and out with pinpoint precision and they allow the voices and tone of the actors to be enjoyed with clarity above and alongside the big beautiful sound from the band.
Next Thing You Know makes for a great “date-show”. The cast all look gorgeous, there's a soppy love story with a happy ending and it all looks and sounds a million dollars but will cost you far less. Take your squeeze to the Landor, buy him or her a large long drink and cuddle up together to enjoy the ride.
Runs until June 8 2013