BWW Review: I WISH MY LIFE WERE LIKE A MUSICAL, Live At Zedel
Don't we all secretly wish life was more like a musical? There's more to it than one might think.
Alexander Bermange's hysterical and heartwarming revue I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical returns to Live at Zedel, directed by Derek Bond, and examines the life of the musical theatre actor.
Suzie Mathers also returns as one of the quartet of actors, this time joined by Madalena Alberto, Lucas Rush and Cedric Neal. They play a variety of characters at various points of a performer's career, from usher to aspiring auditionee to diva.
The show opens with the cast dispersed around the Zedel with torches as ushers, encouraging audience members to take their seats ready for the show in "Ladies and Gentlemen". They then take to the stage and sing about "The Opening Number", highlighting the many clichés that often feature at the top of a show.
With slick pieces of dialogue linking the numbers, the audience are whisked from centre stage to backstage as each song speaks of another aspect of the experience of an actor in the biz. The lighting subtly switches between each number to help with this journey on both sides of the curtain, and appropriate emerald hues certainly don't go unnoticed in reference to a particular gravity-defying song ending.
Mathers gets to show off her comedy chops and soprano range - as previously seen in her role as Glinda in Wicked - in "I Love To Sing", which had the audience in stitches, as did her ordeal with an over-enthusiastic fan ("When A Fan Loves A Woman").
Alberto portrays the wide-eyed anticipation of an aspiring actor waiting to audition and also gets to give a nod to her previous stint as Fantine in "I Wish That My Life Were Like a Musical".
Bermange and co-arranger Jerome van den Berghe have woven theatrical lyrical and melodic easter egg snippets that will perk up the ears of any seasoned musicals fan. In a heartfelt performance, she sings of how her life would be so much better (and in some ways worse!) if it were like a West End show.
Rush is a hoot when sharing the turmoil of trying to find the right key to sing a song in with "The Key Problems" and is delightfully flamboyant in "Only Then Can I Truly Perform", when he plays the role of an actor meticulously following a pre-show ritual. He also garners much sympathy from the audience when sharing the plight of the oft-forgotten standby.
Neal's first solo number is the most prop-heavy of the show: bathed in scarves, steamers, cups of tea and taking many pills out of a compliancy aid, he delivers a side-splittingly funny saga of choosing to perform while under the weather. His gloriously smooth vocal gets to shine throughout.
His solo about aspiring to move on from musicals to be "A Serious Actor" and a rather amusing duet about the lesser-known downsides to delivering an on-stage kiss with Alberto are also particular highlights.
Bermange chips in now and again as a passive-aggressive accompanist and cheerful commentator on the proceedings, leading to an overall slick and relaxed dynamic between those on stage and those in the crowd.
Every song will make you laugh, but also make you appreciate the hard graft involved in a performance career. I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical is a delightful, tongue-in-cheek look at the theatre industry with plenty to enjoy for industry folk and fans alike.
Photo credit: Fane Productions