Throughout the past year of theatre closures around the world Andrew Lloyd Webber has passionately argued for the opening of theatres and the return of the arts. It’s therefore fitting that producer (and performer) Caitlin Spears chose to honour this well loved composer’s work in a concert presentation: The Music of the Night, The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
This one act, 90 minute concert featured a mix of well-loved classics and perhaps a few lesser known songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber collection, with songs from Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Jesus Christ Superstar, Starlight Express, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Song and Dance, The Wizard of Oz, By Jeeves!, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Aspects of Love, Evita and Whistle Down the Wind.
From the opening number, featuring Raphael Wong playing the cello and breaking out in superb voice, it was clear this was set to be a very elegant tribute to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Beautifully directed by Theresa Borg, the evening moved between solos, duets and full ensemble numbers with plenty of variety and some surprise segues that worked incredibly well.
More than simply a concert of songs, each number was passionately presented by the cast with movement and choreography (by Celina Yuen) that captured the heart of each of these songs and the essence of the moment in the show.
For fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber the evening felt somewhat like a triva quiz – how quickly could you identify the song and the show? It also brought a sense of nostalgia with flashback memories of the last time these musicals were staged.
I won’t spoil the surprise by listing out all the songs featured – but suffice to say there were some popular choices, with the audience spontaneously clapping, swaying and even joining in with one number!
The cast brought a diverse range of professional experience, but all balanced each other perfectly. Each of the cast had their moment to take the spotlight and there was not a single weak moment in the entire show.
As the evening’s special guest, Debra Byrne returned to the stage to reprise songs from two of her most memorable roles in Sunset Boulevard and Cats. Byrne’s performance had the audience captivated; the intimacy of Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel allowing every audience member to experience one our finest leading ladies up close and personal.
Now in her 60s, it’s quite some time since Debra Byrne graced our stages as Grizabella, but perhaps now her performance of ‘Memory’ was perhaps more poignant than ever and worth attending just for this one number.
Yet, despite Debra Byrne’s incredible performances, the full cast held their own in their performances and full credit to Bianca Bruce, Andy Conaghan, Madison Green, Genevieve Kingsford, Cherine Peck, Christopher Scalzo, Caitlin Spears, Tod Strike and Raphael Wong for delivering their own powerful moments.
The lighting design by Harrie Hogan enhanced the mood of each song with great effect, and I particularly loved the green lighting that illuminated Genevieve Kingsford in her performance.
The show also featured some surprise medleys with a stunning performance of ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ and ‘Tell me on a Sunday’, cleverly arranged by musical director Stephen Gray. Gray superbly brought Andrew Lloyd Webber’s compositions to life, along with with Gary Norma, Nathan Post and John Clark.
Sound design by Jack Scandrett was well balanced and the clear diction of the cast allowed the story telling of these songs to come through. The full ensemble numbers delivered an incredibly rich and full sound.
The Music of the Night is a celebration of the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber that will take older fans on a nostalgic trip and introduce younger audiences to some of the classics. This is an exceptional night of musical theatre with something for everyone.
The Music of the Night is now playing at Chapel Off Chapel until Sunday 16th May.
For more information and tickets: https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/show/the-music-of-the-night-the-songs-of-andrew-lloyd-webber/
Photo credit: Ben Fon