Falling Stars (Union Theatre Online)

This loving musical tribute to the great songwriters of the first three decades of the 20th century is now streaming for a second time on stream.theatre.

Falling Stars is written and conceived by Peter Polycarpou, and performed by him and Sally Ann Triplett. A framing device has ‘Polly’ buying an ancient book of musical scores, which gives him the idea for the show.

One day into rehearsals in December, the show was pulled up short as a live venue piece, then developed into this screen version over three days. The performances from both singers are excellent and their friendly chemistry zips off the screen.

Filmed in the Union’s brick-lined auditorium with just a bit of set-dressing, and a piano for accompaniment, the songs and melodies of years gone by are dusted off and given a new lease of life.

Irving Berlin, Charlie Chaplin, Lew Brown, Ted Snyder, Vincent Youmans, James Monaco, Frank Silver: all are represented in this delightful production directed by Michael Strassen, with arrangements by Mark Dickman.

Although the songs and their delivery speak for themselves, a nod must go to Andrew Exeter for his lighting, and Jean Grey for set and costume. Combined, they move us from musty old bookshop, to 20s music hall, and places where those seperated by war search deep into their hearts.

The choice of songs is impressive: opening with The Sheik of Araby, mixing French and English to emotional effect in Byron Gay’s Le Destin, highlighting middle-class romance in Tea for Two.

Sometimes shows hit you in the heart personally. For me, loving the era and the songs I learned from listening to them with my dad and my gran, it was lovely to indulge my passion for the songs half-forgotten in middle age and all but lost to younger generations.

Rose of Picardy is one which has great personal resonance, although I have not heard it in years. The works derived from Chaplin’s music, too, and inevitably, that old perennial What’ll I Do, which I associate more with Sinatra than its originator, soprano Grace Moore.

If you are not into digital theatre, I would still suggest you bear this sweet show in mind for when London’s theatres on the fringe reopen. The Union does aim to stage this as and when they can; and you are in for a treat.

The stream of Falling Stars runs until 14 February and can be booked at stream.theatre’s website.

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