This is a very earnest recording with quite a few majestic and soaring melodies – I wouldn’t expect, based on the showtunes in the recording, a full production of this musical to have very many, if any at all, high-energy song and dance numbers, though it would be a pleasant surprise. Songs of hope, or otherwise strength and defiance with a great big finish are the sort of thing musical theatre audiences still crave. In a theatre world that has embraced jukebox musicals more than ever (and I’m not knocking that), it’s good to know that book musicals aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
It doesn’t appear, listening to the selected tracks in this recording, that the narrative strays far from the actual story of Rose Boote (1878-1958), known as Rosie (Lucy Thomas), who became Lady Headfort, having married the fourth Marquess of Headfort, Geoffrey Thomas Taylour (1878-1943) (Will Callan). There was, it seems, much consternation about the marriage, though the songs themselves don’t provide much detail on precisely who said what to whom – Rosie, a Catholic commoner, was to be wedded to an Anglican aristocrat, and historical records have it that even the royal family tried to prevent the wedding. For a music hall actress to appear alongside a peer of the realm was deemed intolerable by high society, even though Rosie gave up her theatre career when she married Headfort in 1901.
At least three of the songs in the first half of the recording (there are twelve in total) are, at least in part, about Rosie dreaming of what could be. Having dreamed, early on, about getting away from her childhood surroundings in the hope of a superior lifestyle elsewhere, she dreams again later, in ‘Gentle Breeze’, about (if I’ve understood it correctly) one day returning to those very same childhood surroundings. Is there any pleasing this lady? Is the grass always greener on the other side?
Well, she finds great satisfaction when the Marquess of Headfort comes along. Indeed, ‘Starlight’, in which she – wait for it – dreams – this time, that “someone’s there for me”, suggests an age-old desire, as though this were a Disney princess narrative, for a mighty man of valour to rescue this damsel in distress. But then again, realistically, at the turn of the twentieth century, that’s probably the best she could wish for. And to be fair, in the aptly named ‘Above The Clouds’, there’s satisfaction, and maybe, just maybe, even happiness. (It doesn’t last – a later song is called ‘Broken Dreams’.)
That love conquers all is hardly a groundbreaking concept in musical theatre, and given Headfort’s wealth, it remains a triumph over adversity story even if physiological needs are never in danger of not being satisfied: there are, without giving too much away, many obstacles to overcome. As far as the recording goes, the singing voices are a delight to listen to, with the occasional track backed by a choir. The orchestrations are easy on the ear, and complement the strong vocals brilliantly.
There seems to be a generous amount of positivity in the recording. I couldn’t quite work out who Gina (Desmonda Cathabel) was, or how she fits into the story – she sings one song and then doesn’t re-appear. Having listened to these heartfelt ballads that end on long and mighty notes, I couldn’t help but wish for at least one high-octane energetic number. Surely proving the la-di-da aristocracy wrong deserves it. Still, it’s a solid and nuanced recording, and if you like a stagey ballad, you’ll love listening to this.
Review by Chris Omaweng
“Rosie” The Musical is an exciting new historical drama based on an inspirational true story with Music and Lyrics by Chris Broom and Book by Sam Babenia.
“Rosie” tells the remarkable story of Miss Rosie Boote who overcame considerable adversity to fulfil her dream of becoming a star of the West End Theatre in Victorian London.
Rosie was raised in a convent in Ireland before travelling to London to pursue a career on the stage. Rosie’s engagement to a titled Cavalry Officer caused huge outrage and scandal amongst The Establishment, including the future King Edward. However, Rosie showed great resilience to withstand the prejudice against her and continue to
follow her dream. Rosie’s uplifting and inspirational story is not only highly entertaining but also addresses important issues that still resonate strongly today.
1. One Day
2. Dear Lord We Thank You For This Day
5. Gentle Breeze
7. I Still Believe in Love
8. Above The Clouds
9. Our Homeland
10. Broken Dreams
11. Hold On
12. We Can Change The World
Release date: 1st March 2024