Home » London Theatre Reviews » Lorna Dallas Live at Zedel at Crazy Coqs | Review

Lorna Dallas Live at Zedel at Crazy Coqs | Review

Lorna Dallas Spring Collection - Photo by Kevin Alvey
Lorna Dallas Spring Collection – Photo by Kevin Alvey

I don’t know very many songs about spring. There’s ‘Beautiful Day’ by U2 (though I take the point that beautiful days occur in other seasons too) and ‘Lifted’ by the Lighthouse Family (not an actual family). Then there’s the hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’, although by the time my generation started singing it in school assembly it was more popularly known as a Cat Stevens record. In the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair, there’s a song called ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’, and South Pacific has ‘Younger Than Springtime’.

The only other spring song I recall was one included in Lorna Dallas’ Spring Collection repertoire, ‘Spring, Spring, Spring’, from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a production of which was put on by the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2015. For me, recognising songs in this cabaret performance was like knowing the answers to the questions on BBC Television’s ‘University Challenge’ – I knew what I knew, which wasn’t very much, and the rest – well, ‘pass’, to coin a phrase.

This performance, then, was something of an education. The musicals of Ivor Novello (1893-1951), for instance, aren’t put on very often these days – I don’t recall seeing any to date. This is because, as a theatre producer once told me, investors would lose every penny. Now, having recently pointed out that too many shows of this kind have too much talking in them, I stand by those remarks. While Dallas has much to say, all of it is directly relevant to the musical numbers performed. One tune, ‘The Girl I Knew’ was penned by Novello specifically for someone Dallas once worked with, for instance. I hasten to add this was a show that had twenty-three songs in under ninety minutes – not too much talking by any stretch of the imagination.

Lorna Dallas is still known for her West End debut, in 1971, in a revival of Jerome Kern’s Show Boat at the Adelphi Theatre, where she took on the role of Magnolia Hawks. Her chosen extract from that show, ‘You Are Love’, is usually a duet with another character, but her version here works just as well. But for a show about all things spring, I wouldn’t have thought a little more jauntiness wouldn’t have gone amiss. It was like being in a minicab on the way home listening to ‘Mellow Magic’ or one of those stations that plays very pleasant, but very soothing music: I suppose it is popular with drivers as a counterbalance to the aggressive nature of driving in London.

Still, there’s no doubting the impeccable delivery of each and every number. I suspect it’s been quite a few springs now since a nightingale could actually be heard singing in Berkeley Square, given the amount of traffic that now passes through there. It’s not all about the good old days – while the earliest composition, ‘April in Paris’, was written in 1932, the most recent was a song called ‘Time’, written in 2004. Whatever era a tune came from, the songs were a pleasure to listen to. Credit must also be given to Christopher Denny, tinkering the ivories on the piano with flair and confidence. It was a delight to hear these songs performed with passion and precision. Brava, as they say at the opera.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

May is the perfect month to unveil Spring Collection, internationally acclaimed West End and New York singing star Lorna Dallas’ sparkling new show at Crazy Coqs.

In Spring Collection, which runs over three nights from Sunday 20 May – Tuesday 22 May, Dallas continues her stunning return to the scene, wrapping her sterling soprano around a bountiful collection of seasonally appropriate gems from both sides of the Atlantic…. musical gems by Bernstein, Arlen, Rodgers, and Coleman nestle alongside jazz riffs by Legrand, even delightful rarities by Bart Howard and Murray Grand.

Dallas’ triumphant return to performing after a two-decade absence in 2017, was met with rapturous applause and unanimous unqualified raves both in London at Crazy Coqs and Birdland in Manhattan.

Directed by her long-time collaborator, Barry Kleinbort.
Musical Director: Christopher Denny.

Lorna Dallas: Spring Collection
Sunday 20 May – Tuesday 22 May 2018 at 7pm
Live at Zedel
Crazy Coqs
20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED


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