Monday 23 September 2013

Divas Unsung @ Leicester Square Theatre

What’s so refreshing about Songs Unsung’s productions is their focus on unique and unusual musical theatre repertoire.  No longer must we endure endless Lloyd Webber melodramatics, shouted jukebox numbers or mangled Sondheim lyrics – instead we are treated to something new and different.  It’s this approach that ensured the company’s one-night-only show ‘Divas Unsung’ at the Leicester Square Theatre was an unexpected delight.

The song choices were taken from a wide spectrum of shows spanning decades of musical theatre: from ‘Twang!!’, to ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’, ‘Carrie: The Musical’ and more recent efforts like ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and ‘Betty Blue Eyes’.  Many of the shows are widely considered to be flops (‘Carrie’ especially), but that doesn’t prevent some hidden gems being uncovered for this cabaret style show.  The songs were varied, allowing not only for some technical singing but characterisation and storytelling within the limited setting.  The audience may not have been familiar with each number, but they could easily feel the sweeping emotion emanating from the ‘divas’.

The six ‘divas’ boast some impressive theatrical credits and sang with enough powerful belting to push Celine Dione clear off the Titanic, despite the odd screeched top note.  An early highlight was Ambra Casserotti and Kirby Lunn’s rendition of Ready To Be Loved from ‘Edges’, featuring some huge notes and intricate vocal runs.  It was also a rare example of ensemble singing, more of which would have certainly added to the variety of the show.  That said, what diva ever sings with others (although the back-up from the MTA choir in certain numbers was a welcome addition)?  Ashleigh Gray’s vocals were superb throughout the evening, with excellent control and diction.  The real standout performance, however, came from Rebecca Trehearn.  Her rich tone was sumptuous, her rendition of Come To Your Senses from ‘tick, tick…BOOM!’ heavy with emotion that left the audience shaken.

‘Divas Unsung’ was not just another musical theatre cabaret show, but a show filled with under-appreciated talent – both the singers and the composers.  Look out for more shows from Songs Unsung in the future, not only for a thoroughly entertaining evening but some cracking audition songs for aspiring performers.