With a Song in My Heart
A celebration of Rodgers and Hart
Salisbury Playhouse Studio
Melancholy is in the air in the Salberg studio of Salisbury Playhouse this year where the third in the company's series of musical entertainments for Christmas celebrates the prolific output of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
With a Song in My Heart, devised and directed as usual by Simon Green and David Shrubsole, features movement as well as melody and is a relaxing alternative to the explosion of youthful energy taking place nightly - and sometimes afternoons too - in the main house next door.
Stuart Hutchinson, who has been at the grand piano for the earlier tributes to Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin, gives way this time to Glyn Kerslake who also sings a fair melody, supporting the three dancing principals, Gillian Bevan, Julie-Alanah Brighten and lively tenor Joel Karie.
All four have performed frequently in the West End - Karie has also sung on Broadway and in Hamburg - and they bring an air of easy professionalism to the crisp, unique American talent that was Rodgers and Hart.
From these two creative artistes comes a piquancy that is not apparent in the works of Kern and Berlin - or at least not so far as my memory of the two earlier miscellanies supports - and the sometimes biting lyrics of Hart's much troubled persona have much to do with this aspect.
And Rodgers' music, so bright in the Sound of Music and other works with Oscar Hammerstein, here matches the mood of his earlier wordsmith.
"Bewitched, bothered and bewildered" (and I have never heard a more passionate rendering than that of Gillian Bevan here) is a case in point.
Other examples of the melancholic Broadway mood are found in "10 cents a dance" (from Simple Season), "I didn't know what time it was" (Too Many Girls), "My funny Valentine" and "Where or when" (Babes in Arms) and "There's a small hotel" (On Your Toes).
Many highlights include Karies' account of "Wait till you see her" (By Jupiter) while Brighten delighted with the now little remembered "Johnny one-note" (Babes in Arms).
Script is by David Benedict, lighting by Peter Hunter and the excellent, unobtrusive choreography by Steven Harris,
"With a Song in My Heart" continues until Saturday 15 January.
Reviewer: Kevin Catchpole