Review – Words and Music – Lost Musicals at Sadler’s Wells

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Winter entirely passed without an announcement of this year’s Lost Musicals‘ season (normally starting in March!) and, I have to admit, I was getting a little bit worried. But then it finally showed up in May, three shows (Noel Coward’s Words and Music; Burrow’s and Merril’s Holly Golightly;” and Cole Porter’s Around the World, starting in July and going through November, all at Sadler’s Wells. As ever, there’s a discount if you buy all three shows; be encouraged by me and go for it.

This afternoon’s show was prefaced with a bit of an apology from Ian Marshall Fisher: although Lost Musicals is intended to highlight forgotten works of the golden age of American musicals – but Words and Music doesn’t really qualify. It was written by Noel Coward – a British composer – for a British audience. The plan had been to show Coward’s Set to Music, in which he recast many of the tunes from W&M for America, but Fisher had not been able to track down the music despite much searching. So we were presented with this show instead, but since it featured many now well known songs and had not been remounted professionally since 1932 (ditto Set to Music but since 1939), it did seem to meet the bar for the series.

That said, the format of an unrelated series of songs done as a revue is not one I really like – I’m a much bigger fan of plot and character than just tunes. And while performed with panache, gusto, and wit (standouts were the incredible ham Vivienne Martin and the sexy and sassy Issy van Randwyck), but I found my attention drifting. I’m glad to have heard “Mad About the Boy” and “Mad Dogs and Englishman” in their original settings, but, well ,to me this evening was really for the hard core types. I tend to think I am one, and I must be because I’m glad I went, but if this doesn’t get another professional production again I feel confident it will be for all of the right reasons.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Sunday July 14, 2013. It continues at Sadler”s Wells Lilian Baylis Theater on Sundays through August 4th.)

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One Response to “Review – Words and Music – Lost Musicals at Sadler’s Wells”

  1. Review – Finian’s Rainbow – Phil Willmott at Union Theater | Life in the Cheap Seats - Webcowgirl's London theatre reviews Says:

    […] Now, I’ll agree that if you watch Hollywood musicals of the 30s or stage musicals of the 20s and 30s, the plots are at times little more than excuses to string together some songs, much in the same way pasties and g-strings work for strippers. The plot is not the point. And for some shows, there isn’t even a plot: it really is just songs and skits, what I consider a musical revue. […]

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