REVIEW: MUSICALS: Unsung (The Crazy Coqs, Live at Zedel) ★★★
The producers of ‘Rachel Tucker: Live at Zedel’ and “West End Switched Off’ turn their hands once again to another intimate live concert, ’MUSICALS: Unsung’. With three quarters of the cast having done long, career defining, stints in Wicked, the night boasts a stellar plethora of english Musical Theatre professionals – Evelyn Hoskins (Carrie, Sound of Music Live), Ashleigh Gray (‘Elphaba’ in Wicked on and off for eight years, Cool Rider), Oliver Tompsett (We Will Rock You, Rock Of Ages, Wicked) and Sue Kelvin (Original London cast of Assassins, Wicked).
The traction with this show is that it’s musical contents is unknown songs cut in the pre-production of famous Broadway and West End musicals as well as popular Hollywood and Disney films. The online and programme blurb also states inclusion of ‘songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood screen’ which were nowhere to be heard.
The show opens with a self explainable could-have-been number from the Disney film Frozen. Gray and Hoskins address each other as ‘Elsa’ and ‘Ana’ as they cruise through a likeable upbeat number, ‘Life’s too short’. Charismatic Musical Director Kris Rawlinson informs the audience in tit-bit introductions of where the songs were cut from and why, which Broadway legends were involved in these decisions and each singer shares their opinion on the piece. In a relaxed setting such as The Crazy Coqs, a loose script with anecdotal ad-libbing provides that feeling of exclusivity, which only small-scale cabaret bars can offer.
For the most part, all the songs are enjoyable enough but ultimately forgettable and perhaps destined for the cutting room floor. It is only a handful, such as Kelvin’s comical performance of ‘I remember Love’ cut from the five times Tony Award Winner, The Drowsy Chaperone, which draw attention to the ruthlessness of the industry. As Oliver Thompsett remarked, ‘these numbers reflect how fine the line is between the songs we all know so well and those that just didn’t make it’.
Performances by all the cast were exceptionally navigated considering their apparent lack of rehearsal time, flicking through lyrics in a folder. Gray’s effortless vocal control is a particular highlight on the last number cut from the original Broadway workshop of Wicked.
Although a thoroughly pleasant piece with minimal trip ups, the show runs at just under sixty minutes long which seems unreflective of the £20 ticket price. Nonetheless, an evening like this one, stripped back of all the bells and whistles of West End London theatre, proves why concerts are so worth seeing: a pianist, vocally astounding performers and a celebration of glorious music.
Reviewed by Nicole Darvill-Batten