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Never Give Up On A Dream – Thespie | Review

The Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel is a rather beautiful venue for this online concert, featuring members of the West End cast of Pretty Woman: The Musical. Bookended by supportive messages from Paula Wagner, the musical’s lead producer, and Jerry Mitchell, the show’s director and choreographer, it goes well with the other concerts available (at the time of writing) on the Thespie platform. Mixed in with a wide selection of tunes is some conversation, sometimes in the form of banter between the actors, sometimes in the form of personal anecdotes, and sometimes in the form of questions being thrown at the actors for them to consider.

Sophie Evans, Carl Man, Alice Fearn, Dianne Pilkington, Alexia Khadime, Nikki Bentley, Liam Tamne, Oliver Tompsett credit Danny Kaan
Sophie Evans, Carl Man, Alice Fearn, Dianne Pilkington, Alexia Khadime, Nikki Bentley, Liam Tamne, Oliver Tompsett credit Danny Kaan

This is a group that evidently enjoyed the opportunity to perform again. That they were doing so without a live audience was also palpable, particularly in their responses to the question ‘What do you love most about theatre?’ I won’t give away what anyone said here, suffice to say there’s a difference between being on a film set and being on a stage, and there’s something about having an audience respond to punchlines or big numbers that these actors are very much missing during the pandemic.

One might have wished for a few more tunes from Pretty Woman: The Musical, but then again, as various members of the company reprised show tunes from previous productions they had been in, such as ‘Somebody To Love’ from We Will Rock You and ‘For Good’ from Wicked, it underlined the point that the Pretty Woman run was, having had its press night at the start of March 2020, woefully short as the Covid restrictions came in two weeks later. More positively, the range of songs also highlighted the cast’s memories of various productions, and the audience is also treated to an amusing story or two of when things didn’t quite go according to plan.

Some of the tunes are accompanied by Gareth Leeder at the piano, and others admittedly use backing tracks, which I don’t have a problem with on this occasion – even I’ll admit a cover version of Roxanne’s ‘It Must Have Been Love’ just isn’t the same without guitars and percussion. At just under an hour, it is one of those concerts that’s over all too soon, though I found myself giving myself a brief interval after Rachael Wooding’s rendition of ‘With You’ from Ghost – it was highly emotionally charged.

Bob Harms puts in a good performance of ‘Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)?’, a tune from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, a musical that didn’t do all that well in the Sixties but gave the world ‘Feeling Good’, later made famous by Nina Simone, and ‘A Wonderful Day Like Today’. I liked the all-female version of the chart-topping ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’.

All things considered, this was a pleasant and heart-warming experience.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Never Give Up On A Dream premieres on New Year’s Eve (31 December 8pm GMT and on-demand after) and is an inspiring concert to kick off the new year with songs from the hit musical Pretty Woman alongside pop, rock and musical theatre favourites. The concert features Jemma Alexander, Aimie Atkinson, Hannah Ducharme, Bob Harms, Serina Mathew, Rachael Wooding, Joanna Woodward and Charlotte Yorke, all from the London company of Pretty Woman: The Musical.

Thespie’s first show for 2021 will be Together Again premiering on 7 January 8pm GMT and available on-demand after. Featuring artists that met performing the title roles in the London production of Heathers—Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams—the show will celebrate sisterhood with an eclectic mix of pop and musical theatre trios, with incredible harmonies and humour.

The first three concerts in the series, Unlimited: The Songs Of Stephen Schwartz, Oops! I Streamed It Again and Girl Power, are available on Thespie now, either as single concerts (£15/$18), or as part of the discounted six-concert bundle (£50/$60).
https://thespie.com/

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