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New Voices: Broadway Outside the Box

Presented by New Voices Concerts (NVC)
Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
(2008)

One-off cabaret performances involving stars from the West End seems to have become very popular of late. Usually performed on a Sunday they give the dedicated fans of musical theatre another opportunity to see their favourite performers do something a little different.

This is exactly what New Voices: Broadway Outside the Box wants to do; produce musical theatre that is a little bit different and unexpected. Conceived in New York in 2003 the concept was to create a show in which new and established composers and lyricists could explore new directions with their work.

The composers and lyricists are presented with various stimuli for which they can draw inspiration from. Maybe a city, or a concept such as love or even a poem and they are encouraged to take risks; to produce music that the audience would not expect from them. Obviously if you aren't familiar with their work, you won't appreciate the new direction they are taking but it certainly will not taint your enjoyment.

New Voices places its emphasis on the story of the song. There are no fancy costumes or big dance numbers, simply a small band and, on this occasion, eight performers taking to the stage to share with you these stories. Hosted by the very dry and witty Richard Sisson (a composer himself with recent works including The History Boys at The National) the audience were taken on a journey through New York City, the ins and outs of complicated love affairs, a young girl's teenage crush on a boy called Eduardo and a surprising turn into the adventures of a foolish cookie boy.

Particularly poignant moments came from the beautifully composed "The Face" by Steve Marzullo which took it's inspiration from an obscure poem from the early 17th century poet Arthur Gorges. One poem comprised of three poems running separately yet simultaneously was performed by Damian Humbley, Oliver Tompsett and Liam Tamne. Malinda Parris bought the audience to a complete silence on more than one occasion but particularly with her stunning rendition of the song "Out of Love" composed and written by Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler. There was also a great deal of humour throughout, especially from Dianne Pilkington (currently playing Glinda in Wicked) in "Eduardo" (Marc Smollin/Kelly Dupuis) and "The Cookie Boy" (Sam Davis/Sean Hartley) doing what she does best; comedy with a heart.

This was not a one off visit from New Voices, with another performance already planned for March 2009 showcasing more new material and starring more West End names it won't be long before New Voices is no longer new to London and a regular date for all musical theatre fans.

Reviewer: Rachel Sheridan