BWW Review: DRAKE'S DREAM Original London Cast Recording

Drake's Dream enjoyed a limited run at London's Shaftesbury Theatre in the late 1970s following its earlier opening at the Connaught Theatre in Worthing. It's a biographical musical based on Sir Francis Drake's iconic sail around the world during the 16th century and, in 1977, was commemorating his 400th anniversary. The show was recorded prior to its West End run before another playwright was brought in to revise the production - it then went on to play the Westminster Theatre early the following year.

The production received a mixed response, mainly due to its identity not being very clear. In my opinion, it leans towards the pantomime genre based on a first listen. The score by Lynne and Richard Riley embraces the Tudor era in its instrumental throughout. From the top of the show during "At The Court Of Queen Elizabeth", when tourists are gathering around Drake's statue, good harmonies can be heard and you are transported to the late 1500s.

The orchestrations and musicians are the stars of the show with an array of individual instruments being put in the spotlight, such as the saxophone in love duet "Take A Little Time", when Drake leaves his wife behind, and the xylophone during "When The Winds Command Us Away". "Gold" features a great melody and is one of the few toe-tapping numbers on the recording.

There are some good vocals on the album, but their strength is definitely as an ensemble, particularly in the opening and the choral interludes in "God Of The Waters". Paul Jones as Drake gives a strong and dominant performance during "I've Always Had A Dream", which features just before he sets sail, and Caro Gurney playing Queen Elizabeth I sings "Between Today and Tomorrow" very well. "She Plays A Dangerous Game" is one of the best songs on the recording, featuring a heavy Latin influence and well performed by Bill Bradley (Philip of Spain).

The frustrating thing about the show is that the end of each Act does not deliver particularly well. "Sedition" seems a little messy in parts, and although dramatic as this is when Thomas Doughty is executed, it would not entice me to return for the second half. Likewise the finale is very lacklustre, which is a shame. The whole 'dream' element of the production seems rather cheesy. Drake's story could have just been told as it was unfolding as it is interesting enough.

Overall, there are highs and lows on the recording, but admittedly it is somewhat original.

Drake's Dream is available from Stage Door Records now -

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From This Author Jenny Ell

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