It’s not every day that an Andrew Lloyd Webber power ballad comes across convincingly as a genteel introduction. But “I don’t know why I’m frightened,” the opening line from Lloyd Webber’s ‘Just As If We Never Said Goodbye’ from Sunset Boulevard, was an apt lyric if ever there was one in Lorna Dallas: Home Again. For there stood Dallas, who has performed at the Royal Variety Performance, and at Carnegie Hall – her full list of credits is extensive with a capital E – looking down, with one hand on her forehead, as though wondering why on earth she agreed to perform in front of a paying audience in her own show for the first time in two decades.
But she made it through that first musical number, and then the next, and the next, and so on. Dallas retains a well-controlled vocal with a broad range, demonstrating a continuing versatility that prompted a heckler to call out, “Still got it!” in response to a note-perfect rendering of ‘My Life Belongs To You’ from the Ivor Novello musical The Dancing Years. A retired theatre producer once told me he would love to have staged at least one Novello musical during his career, but he knew he would lose every penny.
Having never seen a staged production of one of Novello’s works I can’t vouch either way, though the very fact that there aren’t many such productions (if any) these days strongly suggests the producer is talking sense. That doesn’t, mind you, stop the tunes Dallas selected from the Novello repertoire from being easy on the ears of those listening. Also featuring heavily are the works of Jerome Kern, and a lesser known composer (to me, at least) called Barry Kleinbort, who wrote a musical called 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti, a journey of discovery for a widow.
“Music has a special resonance in relationships,” Dallas beamed, repeatedly paying tribute to her musical director Jason Carr, a professional partnership which has lasted closer to three decades than two. In all that time, Dallas mused, there’s one thing they haven’t done together: cue snorts and laughter from those whose minds cannot be helped, as it were. As it turns out, they have never sung a duet together before, a wrong corrected with flair and precision in a stunning version of ‘You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow’ from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies.
I did think, about halfway through, that this many mellow tunes and ballads would normally have caused my mind to start wandering off on a tangent, but such a compelling delivery from Lorna Dallas, this is all quite irresistible. By the end, as it turned out, there was actually a good variation in tempo and styles.
The audience, which admittedly included a good number who have clearly followed Dallas over the years, were holding on to every line.
Not once does she go through the motions and sing a song just because it’s a good song, or a popular song, or a requested song. Intrinsic to each tune is a passion for the music and the lyrics, and each number tells a story, which drew people in, irrespective of the depth of people’s knowledge of these songs – at least one was performed, as Dallas remarked, “for the first time on this side of the pond”.
There are, as ever with concerts like this, “so many things unsaid”, to quote Dallas. I can only sympathise with anyone who has a career as stellar as hers and must then choose what to include and what to leave out when putting their own show together. Over all too soon, this was a truly sublime performance.
Welcome back, Lorna Dallas. You really have still got it.
Review by Chris Omaweng
After a two-decade absence, internationally acclaimed West End and New York singing star Lorna Dallas returned in triumph to the world of cabaret with her new show, “Home Again” in London last night.
Directed by her longtime director Barry Kleinbort and the inimitable Jason Carr as musical director, Lorna received a thunderous standing ovation
There is one final chance to see this stunning show next Tuesday, July 4th, Live at Zedel at Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street London W1