P/REVIEW: View From The Sofa 19

Brian Butler August 20, 2020

Immediately lockdown started I mused with the elders and betters at Gscene magazine about what we could cover when theatres went dark, drag artists stopped singing to a real audience and choirs and music makers in Brighton were zooming.

View From The Sofa was the result and now that indoor and outdoor shows are hopefully blossoming, it’s right to plump the cushions for nearly the last time. This super-long edition has as wide a selection as usual, thankfully some of them real events with real audiences.

Olivier Award- winners Showstoppers- The Improvised Musical return on 28 August for a second online outing. Their first online show sold 600 tickets and had over 1900 suggestions about a subject for the team to create a full-length new musical there and then. The show which can be booked via Eventbrite will be available to subscribers for 48 hours.

Theatres who’ve recently  announced indoor and outdoor  shows include: Bristol Old Vic, Southwark Playhouse And Battersea’s Turbine Theatre, which will stage a concert version of Hair the musical  and a concert of West End stars in the aptly titled Roles We’ll Never Play.  Details on the theatres’ websites.

English National Opera will present a drive-in production of La Bohemia’s next month  at Alexandra Palace and the Barn Theatre, Cirencester is staging an outdoor revue of Kander and Ebb songs The Wortld Goes Round from 24 August to 5 September.

The Waternill Theatre in  West Berkshire is doing a concert version of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot to celebrate the show’s 60th birthday . The show is on now till 5 September.

Tony and Olivier Award-winning composer and lyricist Jason Carr has produced an incredible 75 musical videos on YouTube in lockdown. Looking back at some of them he will present a one night live show at London’s Crazy Coqs cabaret venue on 28 September.

Major stars will perform outdoor show tune concerts at 4 venues across England in September. Former Phantoms Earl Carpenter and John Owen-Jones will be joined by Kerry Ellis and Katie Hall at sites in Warwickshire, Stonor Park near Henley, Romsey and Bywell Hall Newcastle upon Tyne .

Talking of Phantom, the West End classic has had as much offstage drama as that beneath its crumbling chandelier. Photos showing the lighting fixture in the street outside its London theatre home prompted producer Cameron  Macintosh to declare the production over and done with . No sooner had the ghost of the opera thumped on his organ in protest than fellow producer and the show’s creator Andrew Lloyd Webber declared the original and unaltered production would return. Watch this space for more episodes of this Masquerade.

The search for A Song For Our Time is apparently over. Looking At The Moon, by Amir Shoenfeld and Caitlyn Burt beat  off contenders for the bid to write a song that exemplifies our global pandemic age. It’s been recorded by West End and Broadway star Hadley Fraser and is on YouTube – please watch and donate to Acting  for Others.

And finally , amid the good news about big venues opening, a disappointing message from Roger Kay, director of Brighton’s Rialto. Alas he tells me the current distancing restrictions make its current operation untenable, with its seating capacity reduced from 93 to a mere 24 and with staging and rehearsal issues. He hopes to find a technological solution to mounting  shows – let’s sincerely hope so. It’s one of the most innovative  theatre venues in the city.

Well that’s it folks! Hope you enjoyed all the viewing suggestions and I’ll be back shortly with Sofa 20 – my biased pick of the best that’s been available during lockdown.