Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – until 24th November.
Reviewed by Joseph Everton
Although retaining it’s industrial, rugged charms, the warmth and intimacy of the Hope Mill theatre plays the perfect host to Putting It Together, a chocolate box of Sondheim numbers pieced together with a hint of a narrative and just enough, with a little imagination, to turn a collection of songs into a believable tale.
Beautifully performed Sondheim classics paint pictures of juxtaposing relationships, one loveless and one in its honeymoon phase, at a boozy party in a Manhattan apartment. Five performers, choreographed to perfection by venue owner William Whelton, revolve around one another and, if you didn’t know it already, you might not even realise the thirty two musical numbers were plucked from shows with a variety of contexts. And even if you did, each number, performed with the ever-present Michael Webber on piano, will likely put a smile on your face.
The cast deliver a performance full of wit and the compact venue means we can gaze into their eyes as they showcase their considerable talents in a fitting tribute to Stephen Sondheim’s brilliance. Lauren James Ray’s performance is a particular highlight, worthy of five stars and a pleasure to watch. Her portrayal of an unhappy wife in a marriage in its death throes, earned the snorts, giggles and sometimes raucous laughter of her audience and ensured that we could not take our eyes off her. Amongst a wealth of excellent showings by the whole cast, including Alex Cardall’s heart-warming Marry Me a Little and Andrew Gallo’s hilarious Buddy’s Blues from Follies, her rendition of Getting Married Today from Company stole the show.
You can watch Sondheim’s Putting It Together at the Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 24th November and you really should.