The support of new musical theatre writing is something I’ve always strongly advocated, and not just in the UK. We have some wonderful up-and-coming writers building a name for themselves here such as Chris Passey, Tim Prottey-Jones and My Land’s Shore creators Christopher J. Orton and Robert Gould, but there are also some equally impressive American writers whose music is making its way across to our shores and gaining quite the international following. Alan Scott is one example of this, as is Jonathan Reid Gealt. I was first introduced to his writing at his London debut concert at St. Andrews, Holburn on 27th November 2011, presented by the newly-formed ConRow Productions. It was a fantastic celebration of new musical theatre and JRG’s songs were performed to perfection by a top-rated line-up of West End names such as Emily Tierney, Jonathan Williams, Caissie Levy and Stuart Matthew Price, to name a few. Since then, ConRow Productions have had a name-change to ILIADebuts (Introducing Live International Artists Debuts) and have gone on to stage subsequent successful debut concerts here in London to showcase the talents of American writers: Slip Into Your Skin – The Songs of David Are was held at Freedom Bar, Soho on 18th March 2012 and Out of Our Heads in London – The Music of Kooman and Dimond was the most recent concert, held at St Andrews, Holburn on 2nd December 2012.
Now ILIADebuts are presenting their latest venture featuring an American writer who many musical theatre fans will already be familiar with, Bobby Cronin, when they host a concert celebrating the release of his international studio recording of The Concrete Jungle.
Bobby Cronin actually made his London debut back in January 2010 at the New Players Theatre, with the likes of Hadley Fraser, Samantha Barks, Mark Evans and Sally-Ann Triplett performing his songs. Based in New York City, The NYC-based composer was commissioned to write an original musical for 2012 graduating students of the Arts Educational School of London, which Andrew Lloyd Webber presides over. What he came up with was Concrete Jungle; a romantic comedy based on the Cyrano de Bergerac story in which 29 year old Ivy graduate Abby stars. Abby works in the Concrete Jungle Bar and Grill and one day receives a phone call which changes her life forever. A case of mistaken identity results in hilarity as Abby tries to summon the strength to tell the truth to the man she loves. The Concrete Jungle featured music and lyrics by Cronin, with Crystal Skillman co-writing the book, and opened at the Studio Theatre of ArtsEd School on 8th June 2012. Also directed by Cronin, it ran until 16th June 2012 and proved so popular that a cast recording featuring Rebecca Trehearn, Danielle Hope and Olivia Phillip is set to be released on the Great White Wax record label.
Trehearn, Hope and Phillip are confirmed to perform at the London concert at St James Studio Theatre on 24th March 2013. The rest of the cast announced so far includes Scott Garnham, Natasha Barnes, Fra Fee, Craig Mather, Cynthia Erivo, Michael Pickering, Sam Lupton and ILIADebuts founders Matthew Barrow and Ceili O’Connor. George Dyer is the concerts musical director, with musical arrangements and orchestrations by The Concrete Jungle album MD Michael Haslam. Songs from the album will be featured on the night, along with songs from Cronin’s other musicals such as Til Death Do Us Part, Sunset City and Welcome To My Life, the latter of which is under a Broadway option.
The London release concert of Bobby Cronin’s The Concrete Jungle International Studio Recording is one which any theatre fan should pencil into the diary. Featuring a range of work by the immensely talented Bobby Cronin, all of which will be performed by a high-quality selection of West End stage stars, it is set to be another exciting night of new musical theatre.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Thursday 28th February 2013