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BWW Review: UNLIMITED: THE SONGS OF STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, Thespie

Past and present West End cast members of Wicked share songs from the composers' catalogue

Wicked

WickedUnlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz is the first in a series of Reunited concert performances developed by Aimie Atkinson, Creative Producer of Thespie, an online platform specialising in theatre and live performance.

The show is a celebration of the composer's works including Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, Children of Eden, and The Prince of Egypt, performed by alumni of the West End production of Wicked.

Alice Fearn, Sophie Evans, Alexia Khadime, Dianne Pilkington, Melanie La Barrie, Nikki Bentley, Oliver Tompsett, Liam Tamne and Carl Man all feature in the line-up, all ably accompanied by Nick Barstow on the piano.

The show starts with a bang with the composer himself giving the audience a little bit of "Corner of the Sky" from Pippin, before introducing the stars of Wicked and Prince of Egypt involved in the 52-minute broadcast. Continuing with the Pippin theme, Khadime, Bentley and Man give a smooth rendition of "Magic To Do".

The performers share sweet and succinct anecdotes to introduce the songs they're about to sing. There are also other captured moments of conversation between performers which balance nicely with the performances.

The set-up is just lovely in luxurious surroundings. All the artists are seated together behind those performing, looking on in support and providing a smattering of that much-missed applause between numbers.

Tompsett and Evans showcase Children of Eden with fine performances of "A World Without You" and the dazzling "The Spark of Creation", respectively.

The group by no means stick to Schwartz's stage shows, with Tamne and Fearn's duet of "If I Never Knew You" from Pocahontas, but this is the only song we hear from the composer's collection of scores for the Disney franchise.

Fans of Godspell will particularly enjoy La Barrie's bluesy "Turn Back O Man", Man's hope-filled rendition of "Beautiful City" and a lilting version of "On the Willows" by Evans, Pilkington and Tompsett.

Pilkington's "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife is just beautiful. A real highlight.

Tamne and Khadime were starring in The Prince of Egypt when UK theatres were instructed to close on 16 March, barely a few weeks after opening night. Tamne, who plays Rameses, gives a flavour of Schwartz's newest show with a performance of "Footprints On The Sand", usually sung by his co-star Luke Brady as Moses.

The show is finished off with a stirring version of "When You Believe", also from The Prince of Egypt, performed by Fearn and Bentley, as well as a very special arrangement of a number from Wicked.

It is a tad surprising how little repertoire there is from the positively emerald show given the performers' collective history with the musical.

Beautifully shot and curated, Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz is a wonderful whistle-stop tour of some of the musical theatre giant's vast catalogue. It's a shame that we couldn't witness it in person, but at least Thespie have made it possible for us to enjoy it at home.

Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz available online until 31 December

Photo credit: Danny Kaan

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