The role of the English girl in New York in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s one woman musical has been played by an impressive array of powerful performers. They include Marti Webb, who created the part when the piece was part of the double bill, Song & Dance. The show had two successful runs in London, initially at the Palace Theatre. She was followed by Lulu, Gemma Craven, Bernadette Peters in New York and more recently, Denise Van Outen. Some 25 years after the original production, Marti Webb returned to the role, succeeding Van Outen in the Bill Kenwright produced revival.
And now, Claire Sweeney has taken up the challenge. It certainly is a challenge with a deceptively difficult score and a tour-de-force singing role requiring a great deal of vocal stamina. Unfortunately although she has a brave stab, Sweeney does not have the vocal range to do justice to the tricky score. Lyrics are lost in the lower registers and some of the high notes sound very forced. There is also a lot of acting going on when you wish at times the songs could be allowed to speak for themselves.
The production is decent enough but does look a little lost in the cavernous Playhouse. However, the impressive cycle of songs remains in good shape, brushed up to date and reorchestrated.