Side By Side

Friday, 8 August, 1997

David Malek came into his own in COULD I LEAVE YOU? and Liza Sadovy really blew the roof off in the closing bars of BROADWAY BABY. They worked well together in Lez Brotherston's Manhattan Loft setting which was nicely lit by Howard Harrison (although I can't think why he used remote spots instead of the more usual follow-spots since they had the habit of not quite catching the singer as the moved around the stage.....still, lots of nice back lighting). It was good to see the piece directed differently to the original West End production 20 years ago and Matthew Francis used the full stage area well, even providing a balcony for the duet from West Side Story.

I leave the best until last......we were fortunate to see the final performance with Dawn French as M.C. (different guest M.C.'s throughout the run which ends on 6 Sept). She was in excellent form, using the script as written by Ned Sherrin for his role as M.C. in the original production but breaking away from it very frequently to provide us with yet another example of her biting humour and wit. As a running theme she played on the fact that she had not been given anything to sing in the show...(until the end which turned into disaster) and coupled this to having the hots for David Malek. This gave her ample scope for some very near the knuckle jokes and allowed her to throw barbed comments to the two women....nice line after Ms Evans had busted a gut with I'M STILL HERE....."that wasn't at all bad should take up this singing lark". On noticing that one of the two excellent pianists was quite young she asked if he should be doing this or shouldn't he be up a chimney somewhere. She also got laughs from her lack of knowledge about musicals....getting South Pacific crossed with Pacific Overtures and singing "I've just met a girl called Evita" to the tune of Maria from W.S.S. She was superb and really made the production into an unqualified success. It will be very different with the other M.C.'s but well worth a visit to see Sondheims work so lovingly revived.

(Steve Taylor)

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