The classic musical ‘Tell Me on a Sunday’ is on tour and back in front of audiences where it belongs! The first of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black collaborations, this one-woman play is a perfect show to be touring following the pandemic: it hit the road on the 15th June, closely following the lockdown, and the show is naturally socially distanced.
Jodie Prenger reprises her role as Emma following the original production at The Watermill Theatre. Emma, a character most notably played by Marti Webb and Bernadette Peters, is a strong and resilient woman. The one-act, sung-through musical shows Emma’s search for love. Through over 20 songs, Emma shares her stories of falling in love, heartbreak and strength. Her turbulent search for love takes the Brit to New York, California and then back to New York.
The set is perfect for the show, immediately giving a sense of intimacy and warmth that only a one-woman show can provide. A small, light-up New York skyline sits behind an 80’s inspired living room, where Emma’s search for love unfolds. Of course, the 80’s costumes are also something to behold: Jodie pulls off many a quick change into some beautifully bold dresses.
Jodie is perfectly cast in the role: she brings a simple vulnerability that is unlike any other. Despite following in the footsteps of some of musical theatre’s greats, Prenger more than steps up to the challenge. It is testament to any actor’s talent to keep an audience engaged while alone for the whole show. Jodie naturally gives the character a likable and relatable sensibility; her simple, innate choices fixate your gaze. There’s no need for a big cast or other characters when watching Jodie command the stage as she does in this production.
The musical is not Webber’s typical all-out, big buck’s musical – it’s simple and refined. The show includes well known classics such as Take That Look Off Your Face, and Tell Me On A Sunday, however undeniably the rest of the songs are rather forgettable. Nevertheless, the jazzy style and motif that runs throughout is very in-keeping with the tone and setting of the musical, and adds to the enjoyment of the music.
After the interval, audiences are treated to a Q&A with the star of the show. Jodie’s a natural entertainer: her northern wit and great sense of humour create a cabaret style second act, beginning with a rendition of Oom-Pah-Pah from Oliver! A great choice that had the audience singing along, and very relevant as Jodie reminds us of the role in which she made her name following her win of BBC television series I’d Do Anything. After answering a few questions from the audience, Jodie is joined on stage by understudy Jodie Beth Meyer, who unites with Prenger to perform a small celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous female hits.
Tell Me on a Sunday, is simply elegant with no gimmicks, displaying pure talent and bare emotion, performed beautifully by cast and orchestra alike. Although a musical that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it provides an entertaining evening, and is somewhat a celebration of classical musical theatre.
Tell Me on a Sunday is at The Lowry from 19- 23 October 2021.
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