Review: Theatre Channel episode 5: The Classics of Broadway

We are now into a third lockdown, but the Theatre Cafe and Adam Blanshay Productions continue undeterred with the Theatre Channel’s musical theatre spectaculars.

True, COVID safety restrictions have meant a use of other spaces – notably near neighbour venue The Duke of York’s – and director/choreographer Bill Deamer worked on this episode remotely, but this is perhaps the best episode yet.

Kicking off with Freddie Fox as the Emcee in Cabaret and finishing with Marisha Wallace atop the National Theatre’s terrace singing West Side Story‘s “Somewhere”, this is a vibrant and brash celebration of all that is good in the MT space.

My particular favourite this time was Gary Wilmot’s take on the Guys and Dolls gambling classic “Luck Be a Lady”, but there is so much to enjoy here: Mazz Murray as Mama Rose; Bonnie Langford showing off her high kicks to Cole Porter’s brilliant title song to Anything Goes.

Freddie Fox in Theatre Channel's The Classics of Broadway
Freddie Fox

A Q&A following the show shed more light on the process of creating these shows, which are neither cabaret performances nor music videos.They are moments of performance brought to the screen, which gives an additional intimacy; rehearsed on Zoom, and created in an artful set of cuts.

They are also a love letter to London itself: we have seen Trafalgar Square in a previous episode; today’s has the South Bank.

Spaces, places, and songs.

Whether the brilliant Cafe Four are on their Coffee Break, or two of their number (the charming Alyn Hawke and Emily Langham) are putting on a happy face (Bye Bye Birdie); this episode really does showcase the best of Broadway.

Rodgers and Hammerstein are not present, but we are told later that a special collation of their works is in planning, which should be well worth waiting for. In the meantime enjoy the great music on offer here.

You can purchase access to the Theatre Channel’s episodes singly or as a bundle here, retaining access for seven days. Part of the proceeds goes to the Theatre Artists Fund.

Image credit: Edward Johnson

Previous reviews for The Theatre Channel: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4