|Side by Side by Sondheim|
Side by Side – a stunning line up closes Choir’s birthday year
Capacity audiences in both Lincoln and Louth enjoyed a great West End programme thanks to the Louth Choral Society. The Choir brought its 140th birthday season to a close with a theatrical performance of the 1970’s West End hit Side by Side by Sondheim at the Engine Shed.
Pictured above are the star cast of Side by Side by Sondheim. Left to right: Richard Markham, Vanessa Havell, Andrew Keelan, Sarah-Jane Bourne, David Nettle
Originally cast as a revue for three soloists, narrator and two pianos, the show was given a new twist by the Louth group with eleven of the songs performed by the choir alone – and it was wonderful to see the choir singing without music. They were in great vocal and musical form and looked and sounded as if they were enjoying every minute of this “let your hair down” programme.
We were entertainingly steered through the evening by Jeremy Bass in the role of narrator – the part originally taken by, and also scripted by, Ned Sherrin.
As the opening number promised – we were presented with songs familiar, peculiar, dramatic, erratic, informal and very definitely entertaining. The choir were joined by rising West End musical theatre performers Vanessa Havell, Andrew Keelan and Sarah-Jane Bourne who over the course of the two hour programme displayed their dazzling musical and acting abilities to the full.
We had intimate and beautifully judged performances of “Anyone Can Whistle” from Andrew Keelan and of “Send in the Clowns” from Sarah-Jane Bourne. Vanessa Havell presented a very amusing rendition of Sondheim’s homage to the “Girl from Ipenema” in “The Boy From…..” a totally unpronounceable part of Spain. There were hilarious ensemble items too – a wedding where the bride was definitely not for getting married and a song for three strippers, each with a different gimmick - one, an unlikely to be forgotten, highly illuminated bra!
The different moods and musical styles of the songs were all expertly accompanied by the internationally renowned piano duo of David Nettle and Richard Markham playing a pair of matched Steinway grand pianos. In addition to the scripted music of the show, David and Richard were given the opportunity to showcase their own two piano version of songs from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” (for which Stephen Sondheim provided the lyrics). This was a real tour de force ending with an exhilarating and breathtaking performance of “America”.
This was a hugely enjoyable evening’s entertainment and the Louth Choral Society together with their Musical Director Martin Pickering and guest performers are to be congratulated on bringing this quality of entertainment to a local audience – a view, judging by their enthusiastic response, which that audience would support.