With ten years under its belt, there ain't no stopping the all-singing, all-dancing Magic of the Musicals as it makes its way around the country, with Marti Webb and Robert Meadmore picking out the high notes and creating the high points of the tour.
Of course, there's plenty of magic in them there musicals for the show to feed on. So much so, that when the band strikes up the first chords of "Another Op'nin'", from Kiss Me Kate, and the first frisson of recognition sets the spine ready for some serious tingling, the idea that there might even be too much magic briefly crosses the mind.
With a set list that runs through the likes of "Razzle Dazzle", "Thank You For the Music", "Some Enchanted Evening", "Shall We Dance", "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "I Dreamed a Dream", amongst over 40 favourites there is acute danger that the sheer volume of quality on show turns this into an evening in which the tingles come in such quick succession that their individual impact is lost.
Recognition is not enough, however. You also need quality up there on stage to keep up with the band. While Webb and Meadmore are qualified in that department, they are somewhat let down by production values, which are, with one notable exception, kept as trim as the concept of the whole show.
That exception is the wardrobe, in particular Marti Webb's. Meadmore and the six-strong singing and dancing backing troupe lose out with a certain tackiness to their apparel, but Webb sports style and elegance throughout. Her succession of gowns, dresses and casual suites shows the lady off to her best advantage while her singing voice, with its delicate phrasing, makes sure she's the centre of attention whenever she is on stage.
Selections made famous by Elaine Paige, but which Webb has sung herself in hit musicals, provided the real highs. "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from Evita and "Memory" from Cats both hit the spot while "Tell Me On A Sunday" demonstrated her individual vocal abilities even more.
For his part, Meadmore bustles about with a suitably boyish charm as Webb's sidekick and support. His own numbers have a tendency towards the overblown, presumably as a result of lax direction from Brian Rogers (who also choreographs) as Meadmore does clearly know how to work his audience.
A reasonable production then, but decidedly lacking in the tingle department.
- Thom Dibdin (reviewed at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre)