I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical is a dazzling virtuoso showcase that might make you glad your life isn’t like a musical. The revue’s closely observed comic songs will have any actors watching cringing with recognition. Teeming with musical theatre in-jokes, gags and references, it covers all the facts of life as a musical theatre performer from auditions to pre-performance hypochondria to self-indulgent encores, and even the poison chalice of success. It makes you wonder why anyone bothers, but is so lovingly steeped in the world of musical theatre it has a passion and zest that gives you a strong clue.
Alexander S. Bermange’s comic songs are hilariously well-observed and relatable not just to anyone who’s had to queue for hours for an audition. Everyone’s been passed over for a job at the last second; everyone has had to work with an impossible diva. There’s much of the musical comedy of failure, which is ironically perfectly executed. It’s quite hard to deliberately hit a really wrong note just at the right time. It brings home just how good most actors are. But you’d have to have a hard heart not to laugh at a great talent struggling with a bit of writing that doesn’t work or dealing with the histrionics and challenges of life on and off the stage.
Performed by four leading West End actors, the casting is ridiculous and the show is a gift opportunity to see these four talents at close quarters with strong material that showcases each performer’s power, humour and versatility. Suzie Mathers (Glinda in the 10th Anniversary cast of Wicked) absolutely kills it in The Diva’s In The House, relishing every prima donna feather-ruffle. Oliver Savile has a rich, strong voice and presence befitting the song A Serious Actor but wonderfully responsive to its undermining ironies. Liam Tamne (The Voice) wrings both humour and pathos from a very technical song about songs pitched in the wrong key and a narrative song about the disappointments of being a standby. Diana Vickers (an X-Factor semi-finalist in 2008, title in Little Voice in 2009) with breathtaking versatility covers a rapid-fire compendium of registers from nasal to fruity in a detailed song about the hell of auditions.
The writing and performances are incredible, especially given how quickly the show had been put together. They had nailed the demanding detail of the songs, but we were surprised, this being a second performance, by some use of cue cards in between. Nonetheless, as an 80-minute revue piece it is witty and wonderfully composed and sung. It should amuse equally both those those who love and those who loathe musical theatre.
Reviewed by AJ Dehany