Cabaret performer, writer and director Tim McArthur tells us late on in his show that the gender of the singers/characters in the great anthems of Stephen Sondheim doesn’t matter – Sondheim is riding about the human condition. I agree.
As a performer, Tim has power, energy, emotion and truthfulness t above all he’s a great storyteller, lie his hero Sondheim, bringing the intricate and wordy lyrics to life and making us understand the thoughts and feelings of the characters in the songs he chooses.
So the twist throughout is that Tim has requisitioned the best female solos for himself, and as if to emphasises that he appears in a half-shirt, half-dress, with glittery a rings and silver slippers. With the highly talented Aaron Clingham at the keyboard, each song is a surprising delight – from his opening as the artist’s model in Sunday in The Park With Gorge, to a belting wow of a Broadway Baby.
In between we get the gently haunting In Buddy’s Eyes, from Follies, and the cleverness of What More Do I Need? It’s normally a sharp sarcastic comment on life in Manhattan, but here it’s soaring and full of humanity. Fittingly, in Brighton, we get By The Sea, from Sweeney Todd, delightfully frightening – in a good way.
Telling us he sometimes thinks his life is a musical,or at best a moment in one, Tim the sings the Baker’s Wife’s sexual awakening song A Moment In The Woods. As his into: “ if life was only moments, then you’d never know you had one”. Tim’s skill throughout is to make conceptual lyrics makes sense – nowhere more so than in the enigmatic There Won’t Be Trumpets – sung with power, passion and a gentle clarity.
Among the many peaks in this performance Leave Me from Follies about a failed marriage is certainly one, and the bewitching Last Midnight from Into The Woods is another – chillingly honest and dark.
Sondheim Divas was at the Latest Music Bar.