Laura Armstrong, Valerie Cutko, Jon-Paul Hevey, Lucy Johnson, TimMcArthur
The tiny Jermyn Street Theatre is one of London’s little-known gems, soit is somewhat appropriate for a staging of a show going by the sub-title ofHidden Treasures.
This five-person cabaret is a brisk romp through lesser-known Sondheimsongs – a real treat for dedicated fans and a pleasing taster for those lessfamiliar with his work. From the bouncy tribute to love in New York that isWhat More Do I Need that opens it to the delightfully cynical closing numberof Happily Ever After, the show rarely puts a foot wrong.
The songs, with one or two exceptions, are smartly chosen. Standoutsinclude Valerie Cutko’s Can That Boy Foxtrot and Who’s That Woman:magnificently androgynous and with a jaded charisma, she’s a performer bornfor cabaret, and a perfect fit for Sondheim’s slanted world view.
Laura Armstrong deserves special praise for managing the tongue-twistingThe Boy From, and her take on On The Steps of the Palace is a pleasure.While Lucy Armstrong is the weakest of the vocalists, her Sooner Or Later -previously immortalised by Madonna – is a sexy romp, and props should go topianist/musical director David Harvey for gamely joining the fun.
Doing double duty as director, performer Tim McArthur wrings bitter joyfrom Could I Leave You, and Jon-Paul Hevey gives a rousing version ofEverybody Says Don’t.
The ensemble numbers are slick and well co-ordinated, well served by FiRussell’s simple and elegant set, a giant picture frame serving as entrancefrom the wings.
All of the cast have good rather than great voices, but that never reallymatters – they handle the songs adeptly and have energy and charm to spare,and the cabaret style staging allows the dark beauty of Sondheim’s lyrics toshine. For fans of musical theatre, this is one treasure worth seekingout.