Kate Flatt’s stylish staging, set in various New York hotels and rehearsal rooms in the late forties, perfectly matches the Segue company’s creative aim to promote music-led cross-art performances.
It brings Kurt Weill’s melodic Broadway gems back to vibrant theatrical life, set against a tender tale of mature love won and tragically lost, plus a youthful tango pairing to explore the sensuous undertow. Highlights include a cabaret September Song and fresh, superb renderings of This is New and One Life to Live that Gertie Lawrence once made her own.
Weill himself collaborated with the cream of Broadway talent and it has to be said that the bittersweet lyrics of Ira Gershwin, Ogden Nash and Maxwell Anderson (among others) are the driving force both for the harmonic line and the emotions here shared by nightclub chanteuse Angelique and her lover Dan, an ambitious tunesmith.
Portrayed by chic song belter Frances Ruffelle and lyric tenor Nigel Richards - both with impressive musical theatre credits - the stage chemistry is strong and one longs for their characters to end up happily ever after. But at the first public performance their vocal talents seemed at cross-purposes - his warm, open-throated delivery fills the theatre in solo moments, while her soaring voice dominated all their duets. Perhaps the body-mic balance needs adjustment and at times one is overly aware of the amplification.
Each time a moment of bedroom passion comes into play, the action passes to the slender young dancers Amir Giles and Tara Pilbrow in carefully choreographed tango sequences. But the evening’s best moments involve MD James Holmes as onstage pianist, with a sextet of seasoned musicians and an air of informal joy in the music, happily shared with the singers and with us.