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The Theatre Channel Episode 5 Review

Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Cafe return for the latest instalment of The Theatre Channel series. This newest episode theme being The Classics of Broadway.

With current restrictions in place in England, it means the episode does expand a little from The Theatre Cafe. With delayed shooting and extra social distancing protocols in place with the added challenge of director and choreographer Bill Deamer having to shield but none of those issues affect the episode, in fact, it's probably the series best one yet.

The episode is once again shot by brilliant videographer Ben Hewis. Even with those extra challenges, there's still some great use of the space inside the Theatre Cafe as well as the next-door Duke of Yorks Theatre and the outside space around The National Theatre. It's all beautifully captured by the camera. Producer Adam Blanshay described the series as a "love letter to London and the West End" and I can't agree more. Something this series does tremendously is it's more than just a concert of put together numbers, each number is narratively driven. Something that all the creative team do really well.

Marisha Wallace. Photo by Edward Johnson

The camera also picks up the great work design team staging each individual number. Jack Weir's superb lighting design and Gregor Donnelly's costume design really add a beautiful visual layer for the viewer. Further with Michael England's musical supervision and  Keegan Curran's sound design, it all comes together really excellently in terms of the creative team. Credit must go to Thom Southerland who co-directed the episode.

Performance-wise we're treated to some real gems in this episode. The creative team talked about how they don't want to just go for the obvious numbers and it feels more refreshing that they don't. 

Freddie Fox's two numbers 'Willkommen' and 'Money' from Cabaret are a great opener. Freddie superbly captured the glamour of Emcee especially when he's draped with money from above. He's a fine fit for the role. The use of the Duke of York's Theatre for 'Money' is superb with shots from the stage, the stalls, the circle and the boxes.

Cafe Four's (Alyn Hawke, Alex Woodward, Emily Langham and Sadie-Jean Shirley) 'Coffee Break' from How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying is well-pitched being filmed inside the Cafe and switching them to baristas. The always classy showman Gary Wilmot follows giving a lovely performance of 'Luck Be A Lady' from Guys and Dolls.

Freddie Fox and Cafe Four. Photo by Edward Johnson.

My favourite number of the episode comes from Alyn Hawke and Emily Langham as they perform 'Put On A Happy Face' from Bye Bye Birdie. It's a delightful duet with magnificent choreography by Bill Deamer. Bill explains in the post-credit behind-the-scenes featurette that because he's been shielding at home so was unable to be there for the shoot that all the choreography work was done over Zoom, none of this though affects the quality of the work. The skill and class of Alyn and Emily's movement had me beaming with theatrical joy.

The ever divine Bonnie Langford performs 'I Get A Kick Out Of You' from Anything Goes. There are some really clever nods to some of Bonnie's previous roles and use of the artwork and posters on display within The Theatre Cafe. 

Mazz Murray brings her Mama Rose from Gypsy with a performance of 'Everything's Coming Up Roses'. Mazz excellently characterises the role so well, so much so that I had to stop and Google and check if she'd played the role yet, she's not but someone surely needs to get her that part!

Mazz Murray. Photo by Edward Johnson.

The final number sees Marisha Wallace perform 'Somewhere' from West Side Story. It's a really moving performance, shot outside The National Theatre. Marisha sings with such heart and soul that those Sondheim lyrics really land. It's a symbolic number too, "there's a place for us" and "someday there'll be a time for us" hit differently as we're nearly a year since the first lockdown began and theatre's remain closed. It reminds us that our time will come. The curtain will rise again. Marisha talks in the post-credits with so much inspiration and it's clear that inspiration comes out in her performance. 

All in all, this is another outstanding episode in this series. The whole creative team clearly love making them, it came across in a Zoom Q and A just how much they all love to be able to flex those creative muscles and that really comes across in the episodes. Even with the extra challenges in place the team manage to create 25 minutes of pure West End and Broadway magic. It makes me want to hop on a train to the West End and just be back in The Theatre Cafe and one of the amazing theatres, soon I hope.

Bonnie Langford. Photo by Edward Johnson

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - the best yet in this brilliant musical theatre series

Episode 5 of The Theatre Channel is available now from The first four episodes remain available to purchase with all 5 episodes available for £50

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