Vivid and romantic, this new musical by Michael Elderkin and James Willett has great potential.

While lockdown has prevented live performances in theatre, there is still plenty of hope and new work that has been shared consistently – but one of the most ambitious yet is this recording of a brand new musical Mascherato.

Featuring music, lyrics and story by Michael Elderkin, a book by James Willett as well as a West End cast it is a musical that features all the drama and romance that you could possibly want in a live production.

Set in 18th century Venice, Mascherato follows the story of Luca and Elena who fall in love only to be torn apart as Venice sinks into war against the Ottoman Empire. In order to be together, the pair have to overcome a number of obstacles in their way.

What is lovely about this recording is the way in which it uses narration (spoken with great charm by Ionna Kimbrook) over the top of the score to ensure the listener completely follows what happens in the story. The detail of the descriptions make it feel intensely visual and the listener can really imagine what it would look like on stage.

Michael Elderkin’s music and lyrics are consistently sumptuous and beautiful to listen to – with duets such as ‘Go and See The World’ and ‘In a Single Moment’ proving to be real highlights. Both convey the romance and drama of what is unfolding between Luca and Elena. The score is pleasantly diverse and colourful – particularly during the intensity of the battle scene, which is quite a contrast to the earlier carnival scenes.

Meanwhile, the story and James Willett’s book are suitably ambitious – but there are perhaps a few moments that could be cut out to keep the story more focused, but it is a piece that is consistently steady and confident in the direction that it is taking.

The cast lined up for this recording is equally impressive – with Rob Houchen as Luca and Katy Treharne as Elena, doing really well to convey the depth of feelings the central characters have for each other. Elsewhere, Jeremy Secomb is suitably villainous as Leandros – snarling his way through with great conviction and Emma Kershaw is a delight to listen to in her performance as Madame Domani. The Capital Voices as chorus and orchestra conducted by Jae Alexander really enhance the quality of the score.

Filled with drama and romance, Mascherato has great potential as a musical – with a score that is of the highest quality and a story that has plenty of twists and turns it would be fascinating to see how it would come to life on stage.

By Emma Clarendon

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐