The Songs of Pasek and Paul – You Will Be Found is the inaugural production for producer Kara Backhous. This concert presents a range of works by award winning team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, performed by a group of emerging musical theatre performers; with four lead vocalists (Nicola Bowman, Maxwell Simon, Kara Backhous and Lachlan Graham) and twelve ensemble performers.
Director Heather Fletcher has brought together a collection of songs that not only showcase the musical writing talents of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, but also the talent of the cast, with a mix of solo and ensemble pieces. There’s well known songs from movies The Greatest Showman and La La Land, tv series Smash and the musical Dear Evan Hansen, as well as songs from lesser known works such as the musicals Dogfight, Peter Pan, A Christmas Story, James and the Giant Peach and the song cycle Edges. It’s quite an eclectic mix on paper, but worked well. The songs flowed effortlessly from one to another.
Musical director Peter Rutherford did an excellent job bringing these songs to life with a five piece band. While all five musicians were brilliant, it was Claire Kahn on cello that really added that perfectly melancholy sound to certain Pasek and Paul songs.
Act One opened with ‘You Will Be Found’ and and Act Two closed the night with ‘This Is Me’ – two big, inspiring numbers that started and ended this concert presentation on a high and had the audience tapping their feet and nodding their heads (and no doubt stifling the urge to sing along at times!).
Nicola Bowman, as Woman 1, delivered a standout performance; her experience shining through. Bowman has a captivating and endearing stage presence with powerful vocals and has the ability to convey such heart and emotion in her performance. If the producers of Muriel’s Wedding are still looking for a replacement Muriel I’d suggest they take a look at Nicola Bowman.
Maxwell Simon delivered a powerful performance as Man 1. Simon was given the two big numbers from Dear Evan Hansen: ‘You Will Be Found’ and ‘Waving Through A Window’, delivering two very passionate and heartfelt performances.
Recent VCA Graduate Kara Backhous has a beautiful singing voice, and as Woman 2, demonstrated she’s someone to watch out for in the future. Highlights included ‘Caught in the Storm’ from Smash and ‘Only Us’ from Dear Evan Hansen, with Maxwell Simon.
Lachlan Graham gave a confident performance as Man 2, presenting songs such as La La Land’s ‘City of Stars’ with Nicola Bowman and ‘Do You Remember’ from Peter Pan.
Lighting design by Jason Bovaird worked well to enhance the mood and create some dramatic effect. Sound design by Jack Scandrett was unbalanced at times and there were some phrases sung by the soloists that were difficult to hear, meaning some of the story-telling of the songs was lost. This did improve in the second half.
The full season of The Songs of Pasek and Paul – You Will Be Found had sold out at Chapel Off Chapel before the show had even opened, which is quite an achievement for a new producer. Hopefully this show will return for an encore season. If it does, get your tickets quickly.