Theatre Review: ALW Unsung - Leicester Square Theatre ✭✭1/2

ALW Unsung

Leicester Square Theatre 

Review by Duncan Brown

Sunday 9th March 2014: Having seen Unsung Songs previous show, Unsung Divas, I had high expectations for this concert of lesser known Lloyd Webber songs.

Unfortunately the evening got off to a less than auspicious start with a tinny, badly edited and mixed montage of Lloyd Webber songs that went on far too long which unfortunately we then had to suffer again whilst waiting for act two to begin.

It also seems strange in this day and age to have no programme, even if simply a sheet of A4, with at least a running order. Consequently if I mix up the names of who sang what, my apologies, particularly as most of the girls were unknown to me.

The biggest problem with the evening, however, was it's tone. It couldn't decide whether it was an affectionate tribute to the great man or a parody of his penchant for what they called 'self homage'. It would be interesting to know if Lloyd Webber had given his blessing to the concert...

The first 20 minutes of the show consisted of mostly songs from the 1960s which started to wear a little thin though gave chance for most of the 9 singers to shine. Notable were Rohan Tickell having fun with Maynard Williams 'Marissa' based on a song ALW had written at school and the always excellent Paul Baker's Elvis number, 'Easy for You' with confident backing from the girls of the MTA choir. Inexplicably James Doughty, MD and pianist of the concert whilst generally providing sterling musical support decided to sing falsetto in the 1977 Tony Christie number which simply felt too indulgent by half though I presume was supposed to be a comic moment.

This was one of ALW Unsung main flaws and one that I'm sure a director would have ironed out as we saw more unnecessary and overdone comedy in the 1992 Sarah Brightman/ Jose Carreras number Amigas Para Siempre written for the Barcelona Olympics which detracted from the impressive voices of Alex Young and Rohan Tickell.

To end act one the 'self-homage' was shown very effectively in the Kiri Te Kanawa number, morphing into 'Our Kind of Love' from Beautiful Game and then the title song from Love Never Dies.

ALW is often, and certainly in this concert, pilloried for his recycling of songs as if it is something peculiar to him, but frankly composers have been doing it from the time of Bach onwards, including theatre greats such as Rodgers & Hart.

Tim Rogers was in fine voice, bringing a touch of class in 'Goodnight Seattle' a precursor to Starlight Express again with excellent backing from the MTA girls and particularly in 'Half a Moment' from By Jeeves which was later used as the title song in Sunset Boulevard. I actually think I preferred the By Jeeves version!

Particularly interesting was the amount of melodies mined from his abandoned Cricket musical which were used in both Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard sung by Suzanna Kempner and Alicia Davies.

Perhaps the most amusing juxtaposition was the source material for 'High Flying Adored', a Maynard Williams number with the lyric 'Things are looking up down on the farm'! This is where the real fun and point of the concert came shining through.

All in all a disappointing outing for Unsung Songs, particularly as so much could have been easily rectified.

✭✭ 2.5 stars