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Music Review

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Lost West End


Music: Various
Lyrics: Various
Performed by: Various
Label: Stage Door Records
RRP: £7.99
STAGE 9041
5 055122 190417
Release Date: 24 July 2015

I’m a bit of a musical theatre nerd. There. I’ve said it. I collect anything and everything I can, and make the visit down to London to see as much as time and money allows. Thankfully, over the years, I’ve seen mostly great productions, most of which I’ve enjoyed. But I’ve also seen some shows that I truly loved, and the critics saw fit to absolutely hate.

Lost West End celebrates London’s forgotten musicals and brings together over 20 unique ‘lost’ West End productions on one album. The collection reflects 30 years of musicals that have come and gone from the West End, showcasing these unique theatrical works. Ranging from 1976 to 2009, all the musicals featured had relatively short London residencies and although they weren’t always met with critical praise, they nevertheless contain interesting, memorable scores and performances that deserve to be heard. The diverse selection of shows featured range from epic through-sung adaptations of the classic novels Gone With The Wind, The Far Pavilions and Tess Of The D’Urbervilles to musical autobiographies of iconic historical figures Leonardo Da Vinci, Toulouse Lautrec and Bernadette Soubirous.

The ‘Lost West End’ musicals included are: Liza Of Lambeth (1976), Troubadour (1978), I (1983), Y (1983), Mutiny! (1985), Bernadette – The People’s Musical (1990), Valentine’s Day (1992), Which Witch (1992), Robin Prince Of Sherwood (1993), Leonardo – A Portrait Of Love (1993), Out Of The Blue (1994), Prisoner Cell Block H (1995), Maddie (1997), Tess Of The D’Urbervilles (1999), Lautrec (2000) La Cava (2000), Beautiful And Damned (2004), The Far Pavilions (2005), Behind The Iron Mask (2005), Gone With The Wind (2008), Too Close To The Sun (2009).

The album features a glittering ensemble of West End vocalists including; Graham Bickley, Meredith Braun, Simon Burke, David Essex, Susannah Fellows, Alexander Hanson, Angela Richards and Andrew C. Wadsworth.

Surprisingly, I hadn’t seen many of these, but I had heard some of them, as a few have also benefited from cast recordings, released either at the time, or later on. I was aware of them almost all though (I hadn’t heard of Troubadour or Valentine’s Day) and knew that there was a lot of quality writing hidden in there. And despite them being ‘flops’, quality is the word that best sums up this Stage Door CD.

This is a CD of hits. Whilst reviewing the CD, and I was constantly saying: "Wow, what’s this from?" And scurrying away to the excellent booklet to read the great write-ups on each show. It’s also encouraged me to dig out my cast recordings for a number and give them another listen! Several highlights for me, headed up by my favourite show on the CD, and one I thankfully saw. La Cava should have lasted a lot longer than it did on stage, and it’s great that ‘Say Goodbye’ is included here. Performed by Julie-Alanah Brighten, it is such a good number. Similarly with ‘Being A Woman’ from Beautiful & Damned, it shows that even the shows consider failures have worthwhile material in there, and material worth a listen.

Stage Door say "Although the shows didn’t last, their music lives on and this collection affirms that the musicals featured are well worth rediscovering". And I couldn’t agree more, and eagerly await a promised Volume 2.


Ian Gude

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