Tag Archives: Peter Polycarpou

“Falling Stars” on stream.theatre

Peter Polycarpou’s show fell afoul of the second Coronavirus Lockdown earlier this month. Thankfully, this version for streaming, produced by Ginger Quiff Media, is a real treat.

Based on a cache of sheet music – of “glorious forgotten melodies” and massive hits – found in an antique shop, the piece is a fantastic collection of songs from the 1920s.

Polycarpou’s delivery of the stories behind this musical miscellany is a lovely mix of facts and fun; he proves to be a great guide. The musical archaeology, aided by arranger Mark Dickman, is combined with sheer wonder at the talent and artistry of the past. The sense of joie de vivre Polycarpou admires, and brings to the stage, is grounded with details about the composers, some famous, others now obscure.

Sally Ann Triplett, in fine voice, aids the show’s pace. The variety of moods, reflected in the song selection, is also ably handled by director Michael Strassen. Triplett moves effortlessly between ballads and comedy numbers. The couple make a convivial pair; a sense of their friendship making even melancholy numbers strangely welcoming. A shared enthusiasm for the music of Charlie Chaplin is contagious: as Polycarpou suggests, Chaplin’s music for his films could make a show of their own… yes please!

Welcome though the recording is, I’m sure Polycarpou and Triplett would agree this music is best live, with loved ones and maybe a drink… I’m thinking a cocktail. Fingers crossed, two dates are planned 8th and 9th January; so, watch now and book for later.

Streaming until 29 November 2020

www.stream.theatre

Photo by Paul Nicholas Dyke

"The Pajama Game" at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Recent closures and current bargains on tickets for some damn fine shows remind us how precious a hit in the West End is. But the transfer from Chichester of Richard Eyre’s superb production of Adler and Ross’ The Pajama Game is a safe bet if ever there was one. This unashamedly old-fashioned musical great is so conscientiously staged that there’s everything to like.
The Pajama Game is the prototype for a small genre of musicals that deal, believe it or not, with industrial disputes. Billy Elliot and the forthcoming Made in Dagenham both aim for a similar blue-collar theme. Here the employees of the Sleep Tite Pajama Factory are about to strike for a pay rise, albeit in a jolly manner. Meetings include entertainment, the hit song Steam Heat, and a rally is really a parade, based on the requested remuneration, with the number Seven-and-a-Half Cents. Life should imitate art sometimes but I fear even Equity isn’t this much fun.
As if commerce and labour weren’t enough, there are love stories, too. One is between a secretary and a jealous time-and-motion manager who used to be in a knife-throwing act – the circus connotation is apt as they are some pretty mad moments here. The other features the love-struck leads: Sid, who runs the factory, and Babe, who deals with grievances for the Union. There’s trouble ahead, obviously, but, for all her feistiness, Babe doesn’t really get that mad, even when Sid sacks her, so there’s no need to worry. It all ends happily with a gloriously silly pajama party at Hernando’s Hideaway.
Just in case it’s not obvious yet, this is one for those who enjoy a song and a dance. If you have ever liked a musical, you’ll love The Pajama Game. The performances are great, the ensemble is strong and there are fine comic turns from Peter Polycarpou (performing until 2 June after which Gary Wilmot takes the role) and Claire Machin. In the leads Joanna Riding and Michael Xavier make a handsome couple and their old-fashioned flirting is a delight. Riding’s Babe is a “firecracker” without labouring the point and is impressively convincing. Xavier’s voice is as strong as any you will hear on stage.
The talented choreographer Stephen Mear steps into the shoes of none other than Bob Fosse. But this version is really a singers’ show, so Mear deserves praise for injecting so much visual joy into the piece. In fact, he ‘gets’ Eyre’s production perfectly, with his honest, uncynical and exuberant approach. I smiled from start to finish.
Until 13 September 2014
Photo by Tristram Kenton
Written 15 May 2014 for The London Magazine