Regular site visitors will recall a competition we ran recently to win a couple of tickets to a very special recording of The Likes of Us – the first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice many years ago! James Little was one of the lucky prizewinners and he very kindly sent us this report of the evening’s proceedings…
A musical that has existed for 40 years hidden away from view, but now it’s coming out from the mist of time and chimneys. Quite frankly I didn’t know what to expect when I joined my “+1” at the main entrance to The Mermaid Theatre in London at about 7pm on a beautiful Tuesday evening.
For one thing The Mermaid isn’t really what you may call a usual West End venue. It does however have a large stage, full of musicians. There was the BBC Concert Orchestra, Capital Voices, some children from the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and eventually a talented group of soloists. Controlling all of this was our Musical Director for the evening, Mr Simon Lee. Every show needs some sort of interface and we had one of the very best – a certain Stephen Fry. A fitting array of talent for a very special occasion.
The evening started off with Paul Gambaccini giving us a short introduction, both to the work and to the venue. Then, after the soloists and conductor assembled and led by our narrator, we rushed into the overture and we went straight through until it was time for the interval. After drinks we were bowled straight into part 2. There was an additional member of the soloists, I’m not saying who, but you couldn’t get much more of an original cast member! All too soon it was all over. With hands tired from all the applause we headed out into the evening pleased to have been a small part of such a historical event.
This wasn’t a sung-through show, indeed there wasn’t any spoken dialogue. Because of this, Stephen Fry kept us up to date with the bits of the plot that wasn’t included in the songs. I felt it worked for a concert performance, but at the moment it’s the only way to present the material. I will say more about the music, but only after it has aired in September, as I think that everyone should be able to hear it like I did, with no pre-conceptions. I am now waiting along with everyone else to hear it on Radio 2. It can’t come soon enough.
James Little – 19th August 2005
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