Revues and song cycles are becoming increasingly popular in Musical Theatre, but have been around for longer than many may think. This is the case with Maltby & Shire’s 1976 revue, Starting Here, Starting Now.
Choosing a location can make or break a revue. It needs to feel not too formal but also avoid the show becoming background music. The clever use of The Pheasantry’s performance space meant it was the perfect location for an intimate yet relaxed atmosphere.
The blend of Sam Lupton, Carolyn Maitland and Kayleigh McKnight’s voices sitting on top of Shire’s music was beautiful. The chemistry between the trio was fantastic and they charmed the audience with complete ease. The show was at its best when all three of the cast were on stage, a particular favourite of mine being “I Don’t Believe It” in Act One. The three worked together incredibly naturally which probably has something to do with the fact that the piece was mostly devised among the cast and the musical director (Kris Rawlinson). It felt effortless and very much together as a piece, and that was consistent throughout the entire show.
That being said, the solo numbers were also fantastic, the stand out being “Crossword Puzzles” sung by Kayleigh McKnight. It was funny, clever and charming, a perfect example of how wonderfully Maltby & Shire’s music and lyrics work to produce a comedy song that still has emotional intelligence and substance rather than relying on gimmicks. It was perfectly executed by McKnight whose gorgeous voice was just a bonus on top of some fantastic acting. It has to be said though, in regards to the show as a whole, the comedy numbers did stand above the more serious numbers. This most likely is the combination of the writing and the atmosphere that was set up, but nonetheless they were still very enjoyable.
Starting Here, Starting Now was a brilliantly put together show with a phenomenally talented cast and band. It was only on for a few days, followed by Closer than Ever, another Maltby & Shire revue put on by Neil Eckersley Productions Ltd at the Pheasantry but with a different cast. If you can, go and see the show, you will no doubt be in for a fantastic evening.
Review by Kara Taylor Alberts
Neil Eckersley Productions
Starting Here, Starting Now and Closer Than Ever playing at the Pheasantry in April.
STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW – Monday 18th April
First produced at Manhattan Theatre Club in 1976, Starting Here, Starting Now opened Off-Broadway in 1977, premièred in London in 1984 and was revised in 1993. Barbara Streisand made several songs from Starting Here, Starting Now famous, including ‘Autumn’, ‘What About Today?’ and ‘Starting Here, Starting Now’.
Starting Here, Starting Now is produced by Neil Eckersley with musical direction by Kris Rawlinson and stars Sam Lupton (Wicked, Avenue Q), Carolyn Maitland (Miss Saigon) and Kayleigh McKnight (Bend It Like Beckham).
CLOSER THAN EVER – Monday 25 April
In this Drama Desk, Outer Critics Cirlce and Off-Broadway Alliance Award winning companion to their hit revue Starting Here, Starting Now, Maltby & Shire follow their earlier songs of innocence with wise and witty songs of experience in an intimate, insightful tale of love, security, happiness and holding onto them in a crazy world.
Premièring in Massachusetts in 1989, Closer Than Ever soon opened Off-Broadway where it played for 300 performances. It returned to New York Off-Broadway in 2012 and last played London in 2014.
Closer Than Ever is produced by Neil Eckersley with musical direction by Nick Barstow and stars Wendy Carr (Princess Ida), Richard Carson (Miss Saigon, Wicked), Emily Chesterton (Shout! The Mod Musical) and Nicholas Corre (Book of Mormon, Bar Mitzvah Boy).