It’s that time of the year again! In a musical climate where everything is downloadable with a click, the market is laden in Christmas music. Composers Barry Anderson and Mark Petty bring us Wish – The Anderson and Petty Holiday Album to give us theatre-lovers – and otherwise something to sit up and take notice of. The album includes nine eclectic tracks with an impressive line up of theatre greats including Natasha Barnes (Funny Girl), Alexa Green (Wicked on Broadway) and Kyle Taylor Parker (Kinky Boots on Broadway).
Claiming their collaboration is largely over Skype, the transatlantic composers merge their English and American styles potently in this album. The songs possess a core musical theatre finesse and range from up-beat comical numbers like ‘Mrs. Claus’ and ‘Reindeer Wives’, to songs of a softer, balladlike nature such as ‘The Piano’, performed majestically by Sondheim favourite, Liz Callaway. A highlight is when the young performers take the reins in the song ‘Santa, You’re Still My Friend’ sang by Jaime Adler (Les Miserables), IIan Galkoff (Matilda) and Harriet Turnbull (What We Did on Our Holiday). This song, which largely echoes Matilda The Musical, should prove a new favourite for aspiring young performers. The track also reminds us how 21st century, clued up children percolate on the idea of Santa Claus.
Each number is flawlessly sung with bountiful energy behind it. It is clear the artists involved are confident in Anderson and Petty’s music and revel in singing it. Like a musical theatre soundtrack, each song vividly illustrates a story, with particular emphasis on the ‘backstage’ element to the magic of Christmas. ‘Mrs. Claus’ performed by Natasha Barnes, for example, is a laugh-out-loud funny and audacious song about an out-of-work actress forced to play Santa’s wife in a fake ‘North Pole’. The collaboration works so well, it is almost as if the song was written specifically for Barnes.
You would certainly not go wrong downloading Wish – The Anderson and Petty Album, whether you are a fan of musical theatre of not. Christmas, although traditional, is celebrated to its pinacle when talented composers such as this lively pair put a new spin on the holiday music we all know and love. And as a new year approaches, we should certainly all watch this space for Anderson and Petty.
Reviewed by Nicole Darvill-Batten