The fun of Louise Winton Sings Songs of Stage and Screen began days before the show was even scheduled, with an email landing in the inbox of every ticket-holder which said, ‘you get to choose my set list!’ A short survey attached to the email asked attendees to pick four favourite musicals; with the ones proving most popular to form the first set of the show. The wide range of options on the survey gave an early hint to the breadth of skill and theatrical knowledge Winton would be bringing to the stage.
The show itself started with an acknowledgement of Country, sung in beautiful acapella, before Winton explained that she was only going to find out the results of the survey – and therefore the first act of the show – right then and there. The idea of a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ set list tickled me; the idea that no two versions of this show will ever be the same giving the experience a unique energy. The scope hinted at in Winton’s initial survey was proved from the show’s first numbers, as she launched into the bright and joyful ‘Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’’ (Oklahoma!) before transitioning with ease to the anguished ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ (Les Mis).
The variety of songs Winton tackled in the first act varied across emotion, style, and vocal range – to go from the deep and rousing protest of ‘Do You Hear the People Sing? (Les Mis) to the soaring plaintiveness of ‘Memory’ (Cats), to the brash and suggestive ‘When You’re Good to Mama’ (Chicago), while doing justice to the rich narrative of each song, was impressive.
Accompanying Winton on stage was a clothes rack, festooned with an enviable collection of costume accessories. Each change of musical was accompanied by a simple costume change – a shawl for Les Mis, a furry vest and cat ears for Cats, a saucy dress and feather boa for Chicago – all clearly well considered, and effective in establishing the change of mood between musicals.
After a short interval, with light refreshments kindly provided by the venue (the Anglican Church of the Annunciation, Camp Hill), Winton emerged back on stage, looking every inch the diva in a peach and floral ballgown for what she cheekily called her ‘rock ‘n’ roll set’. While Winton started with a haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ (suitably rock ‘n’ roll), she soon moved onto a range of classical and operatic pieces, demonstrating her truly sublime soprano voice. While I could happily have listened to Louise Winton all evening, the show came to a close with two final songs from The Phantom of the Opera; a tidy link between the opera of the second act and the musical theatre of the first, and – excuse the pun – a glorious note to end on.
Catch Louise Winton Sings Songs of Stage and Screen on Sunday 23rd May, at Spring Hill Reservoirs. Audiences should come along prepared for wonderful storytelling, a few fun singalongs, and some truly heavenly music.
Review by Sylvia Speakeasy. Sunday 16th May, at the Anglican Church of the Annunciation, Camp Hill. Presented by Louise Winton Sings.