This special celebrating the work of composer Stephen Schwartz is filled with treats and insights.
First things first: it is delightful to have theatres reopening and audiences are able to experience new as well as familiar work in person once again – but equally it is happy news that the Theatre Channel is continuing to flourish – even if it is in a slightly different way than when it first started.
Originally, the show was based around cleverly thought out themes that celebrated musical theatre in a variety of ways and allowing many familiar faces to perform in difficult times and provide comfort to those missing musical theatre. In contrast, now, the theatre channel is able to offer a different focus to the episodes that are produced as evidenced by this special celebrating the work of composer Stephen Schwartz.
What is so lovely about this episode is the way in which it is not purely about the music but the way in which it allows Schwartz to have been actively involved to offer insights into the songs and musicals that he has been involved with throughout an impressive career. This really enhances the experience to ensure that extra meaning is given to each song that has been selected and you are left with a deeper understanding to the songs conception.
This is an episode that really covers every aspect of Stephen Schwartz’s career from a joyful rendition of ‘Magic to Do’ performed by the recent London cast of Pippin at the Charing Cross Theatre to a gorgeously soulful performance of ‘Meadowlark’ from The Baker’s Wife’ captured beautifully by Louise Dearman – every song has been cleverly selected and shows respect for the composer.
On top of this, it is simply an episode that provides so much joy. In particular, Jo Eaton Kent’s rendition of ‘I’m Not That Girl’ is a refreshing take on the immensely popular song that gives it a whole new perspective, while the simplicity of ‘When You Believe’ from The Prince of Egypt performed with great earnestness by Stephen Schwartz and The Cafe Five are just two highlights.
As you would expect, the episode has been directed with great thoughtfulness and focus by Fabian Aloise, while his choreography for numbers such as Melanie Barrie and The Cafe Five’s ‘Beautiful City’ and Alice Fern’s version of ‘It’s An Art’ are a real joys to watch.
For any musical theatre fan this is worth a watch – but even if you are not this highlights perfectly the way in which the work it takes to craft a musical or even a song for one and certainly leaves you with a deeper appreciation for them as a whole. A lovely tribute to a composer who understands musicals deeply.
By Emma Clarendon
To watch this and previous episodes of the Theatre Channel visit: https://www.stream.theatre/season/108