Friday, 8 July 2016
Nobody Does It Like Them
It was Friday Night is Music Night on Wednesday night! Confusing though that sounds, Madam Arcati and I were overjoyed once again to get tickets in the BBC draw to be in the audience for a recording of Radio 2's longest-running music show (and, indeed the world's longest-running orchestral music programme on radio) - and all of it in celebration of the composer of many a fave choon here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Mr Cy Coleman!
As I said in my recent blog for the man's birthday, Cy "wrote a whole raft of our favourites from the Great American Songbook - not only those in one of my fave musicals 'Sweet Charity'". His music was beloved of legends such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett, and he won five Tony Awards, two Grammys and three Emmys. No wonder the Beeb finds him worth celebrating.
And what a celebration!
In the exemplary company of the BBC Concert Orchestra (conducted by Mike Reed), and hosted by long-serving TV hostess (and former "action woman") Anneka Rice, the evening covered all aspects of Mr Coleman's career, from his time as a jobbing composer mainly working with lyricist Carolyn Leigh out of the legendary Brill Building, to notable Broadway success with writers such as Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, to his later success with Barnum and City of Angels. The orchestra, and chorus Capital Voices, indeed had great fun romping through some of his "big music" numbers, not least Come Follow The Band, Hey, Look Me Over, Join the Circus, Big Spender and The Rhythm Of Life.
The lead singers included the gorgeous Michael Xavier (who we have seen on stage many times - as "Miss Great Plains" in the faboo drag-queen-talent-competition-musical Pageant at The Vaudeville Theatre in 2000; in 2008 playing Rock Hudson in Rock at the Oval House Theatre; at the Friday Night is Music Night West Side Story special in 2007; and as "The Wolf / Cinderella's Prince" in 2010 in Into The Woods at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre) who sang some splendid solos - including Sinatra's favourite Cy Coleman tune, Witchcraft and the standard It's Not Where You Start (It's Where You Finish) - as well as providing a remarkably harmonic backbone to the ensemble numbers.
Here he is than aforementioned Into The Woods production, duetting with Simon Thomas on Agony:
Mr Xavier also duetted with the other male lead on Wednesday evening Mr Tam Mutu (Les Misérables; Love Never Dies; Dr Zhivago) on You're Nothing Without Me (from City of Angels) - Mr Mutu's "showstopper", however, was his brilliant The Best Is Yet To Come.
Miss Siobhan Dillon, a contender on the reality show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and West End starlet [and real-life girlfriend of Mr Mutu, as Miss Rice revealed] really let loose on the Shirley MacLaine numbers If My Friends Could See Me Now and I'm a Brass Band, as well as a rather fab version of Lost and Found (from City of Angels; lyrics by David Zippel: "If you're not celibate, we could raise hell a bit"). She also did a rather touching duet with Mr Mutu on The Colours of My Life (from Barnum), as well as with Mr Xavier on I Like Your Style from the same show.
Swansea's finest Miss Ria Jones, however, got all the campest showbiz numbers - as she should do, being the understudy who triumphally stole the show in Sunset Boulevard when leading lady Glenn Close went off sick [in fact Ria created the role way back in 1991]; she also starred in Evita, Chess, Les Mis and Victor/Victoria [and she is the sister of famed drag queen Ceri Dupree] - such as Nobody Does It Like Me, Hey, Look Me Over, Big Spender and You Can Always Count On Me (again from City of Angels), as well as the lovely love song (made famous by Blossom Dearie) I Walk A Little Faster.
Here's a mere sample of Miss Jones' talents:
In its entirety - "re-takes" and all - this was another wonderful night out at the glorious Hackney Empire, which we enjoyed immensely. I wonder when it will be broadcast?
Friday Night is Music Night on the BBC.