Friday, 13 March 2009

REVIEW: The 1959 Broadway Songbook

When I first heard that The 1959 Broadway Songbook was being performed at a pizza restaurant, I immediately found myself questioning who would actually be performing that evening: The Rockafire Explosion? But no, my oblivious foreign self was subsequently educated that Pizza on the Park is, in fact, a respectable venue for jazz, cabaret, and other forms of evening entertainment like the hotel venues of old.

The 1959 Broadway Songbook is a cabaret, comprised of four performers (Nathan Martin on piano, West End standards Anna Bergman and Susannah Fellows, and American Jeff Harnar who compiled the piece). Over roughly 100 minutes, they attempt to encompass what was undoubtedly a high point in the golden age of Broadway, a year where over twenty new musicals (including The Music Man, Gypsy, West Side Story, and Flower Drum Song) by virtually all of the greats opened. The upside is that the show flows quickly, the performers are good, and the venue is surprisingly nice.

The downside is that there are SO many songs to clear and SO many major titles that virtually none of them are performed in their entirety: we hear a verse here, a chorus there, and even some of the biggest songs such as "Rose’s Turn" are reduced to a mere fragment in the interest of time. As such, it’s impossible to ever make a true connection with any of the material or performers, and it’s so frantic that it’s hard to classify as a nice night out. Amusing, but not nice.

Where: Pizza on the Park
When: Until 13 April, Sundays @15:00 & 19:00, Mondays @ 19:45
How Much: £25
Concessions: None
RZ Unofficial “Worth Paying”: £10......
RZ Other Notes: ....but this being in a restaurant you will undoubtedly end up spending extra and feel extremely foolish if you don’t order something beforehand. Doors open 90 minutes before the show, so you can get your dinner (think Pizza Express or slightly better quality) and be on your coffee or wine by the time the show actually starts.

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