Tag: Jeff Van De Zandt

Flourish Productions Presents THE SONGS OF ALAN MENKEN

A warming and appealing tribute

By Narelle Wood

The name Alan Menken is synonymous with so many Broadway and Disney productions: it is hard to capture the gamut of his career, especially in a 2-hour performance review. But the ensemble cast of the review The Songs of Alan Menken certainly did their best to show the range of styles and shows that Menken has contributed to.

Flourish-Productions-The-Songs-of-Alan-Menken-photo-by-James-Terry-Photography.jpg

The ensemble of seven singers (Seth Drury, Josh Ellwood, Zuleika Khan, Vanessa Menjivar, Liam J. O’Bryne, Emily Paddon-Brown and Jeff van de Zandt) treated us to songs from wonderful movies and musicals such as Beauty and the Beast, Newsies, Hercules, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tangled, and Sister Act.  The accompanying choreography (by Rhys Velasquez) and staging (Matthew Lockitt) was simple and seamless, and the lighting was flawless. The only distracting thing was the occasional ‘off-pitch’ note, which was perhaps less about the very talented singers, and more to do with the demanding range needed to perform some of Menken’s more complicated scores. (That, and the appearance of some stuffed animals, which seemed a little bit corny in light of the rest of the show.)

More important were the number of standout moments. “Need to Know” from Weird Romance has become my unofficial ‘geek’ anthem and the duet of “I Can Read You” (Leap of Faith) performed by O’Byrne and Menjivar was brilliant. In saying that, one of my favourite moments came courtesy of Drury and Van de Zandt’s duet of “A Whole New World”: hands down one of the cutest duets of all time. The showstopper though was the ensemble singing one of Menken’s perhaps lesser-known songs, “Sailing On“. It was not a big upbeat number, but an understated and moving arrangement by musical director Lucy O’Brien, with stunning harmonies adroitly performed.

Ultimately, The Songs of Alan Menken was the perfect way to spend a cold Saturday afternoon, with the music of Menken lingering on way after the performance was over.

This production of The Songs of Alan Menken was performed on June 24, 2017 at The Southbank Theatre.

Image by James Terry Photography

Advertisements

REVIEW: Flourish Productions Presents THE SONGS OF ALAN MENKEN

From immortal Disney blockbusters to rare musical gems

By Adam Tonking

Alan Menken has a singular talent for writing beautiful songs about longing to be somewhere else. On a bleak winter afternoon, there was nowhere I’d rather have been than at Flourish Productions’ The Songs Of Alan Menken. And clearly I wasn’t alone. A packed Toff In Town necessitated more chairs being brought in to accommodate the enthusiastic crowd for this cleverly staged and brilliantly performed revue show.

The Songs of Alan Menken

The song choices were particularly inspired: some incredible showstoppers from little-known or unproduced works, some more obscure choices from the famous ones, and a sprinkling of favourites simply impossible to omit. A few more obvious choices were neatly packed into a cleverly arranged overture by accompanist Lucy O’Brien. With its simple and effective staging, slick transitions, and some snappy choreography, this show was the perfect package. Add the brilliant music of Menken, and all you need is the cast.

And what a cast. Six performers of such skill that not a moment was lost, not a song failed to hit the mark. Vanessa Menjivar opened proceedings taking the lead in “Zero To Hero,” before blowing us away in “Growing Boy,” handling the food-related innuendo with great style. “Watch What Happens,” a surprisingly complex and difficult song from Newsies, was artfully delivered by Emily Paddon-Brown. Jeff Van De Zandt’s passionate and emotive rendition of “Out There” almost brought me to tears, and Zuleika Khan’s flawless “Mother Knows Best” had them pouring down my face in awe. Khan wowed again in “Suddenly Seymour,” a gorgeously tender moment with an exquisite Liam O’Byrne as Seymour. And Josh Ellwood’s “Need To Know” was a perfect gem of a song. Although it didn’t show off the impressive notes that Ellwood would consistently deliver in the rest of the show, his storytelling was perfect.

Throw in a few group numbers, such as “I Wanna Be A Rockette,” which was so good I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it, and “Lady In The Long Black Dress,” a ridiculous comic song for the men, and the afternoon was perfect. A perfect homage to a composer so beloved for his work with Disney, and so much more to fall in love with. And with a performance of such calibre, I’ll definitely be attending any future shows from Flourish Productions.

Flourish Productions presented The Songs Of Alan Menken at The Toff In Town, Level 2/252 Swanston Street, Melbourne, on Sunday 12th July 2015 at 3pm and Monday 13th of July 2015 at 8pm.

www.flourishproductions.com.au