Review: Ivor Novello: The Great British’s Musical
Ivor Novello: The Great British Musical
The Matchman Room, London Hippodrome
Saturday 16th November 2013
It is thanks to a friend on Facebook who liked this concert, that I became aware of this as an event. This gave me the opportunity to see it. Since I was in London for the Puffball Circus Project anyway, it made sense to go and see it.
Ivor Novello is one of the most famous people to have come from Cardiff (his birthplace is on Cowbridge Road East). Yet sadly a great deal of people today still don’t know who he is exactly. This is a terrible shame, since he wrote some of the best musical/operetta hybrids we have seen from these shores. Another reason why his shows are no longer on the stage is due to the humongous nature they all demand. Grand sets, huge numbers of singers, it makes for taxing company for theatres and production companies today. They are simply not performed and that is very much a shame. If they can do Wagner’s Ring, they can Novello.
But on a rare occasion like this, we get to hear his songs live. Granted, they are very old fashioned, but that’s no reason for me to not love them. Their sweeping and mellow dramatic nature make for easy listening, yet on sophisticated and intoxicating levels. Hosted by our own Russell Grant, this truly was a Glamorous Night. The vocals were generously supplied by singers such as Sophie-Louise Dann, Robert Leadmore and Annatt Bass. These and more were fine West-End singers and are worthy of such billings.
The fine song selection included Keep the Home Fires Burning (practically the anthem for Britain during The Great War), My Life Belongs to You, And Her Mother Comes Too and the luscious We’ll Gather Lilacs. One minor disappointment was not hearing my favourite song of his, Waltz of My Heart. He rivalled any song writer at the time (he was also a great actor and very handsome), with clever, deliciously charmingly highly droll songs. Welsh nationalism aside, Ivor also wrote one of the best English anthems in history: Rose of England.
The upsetting thing with the Hippodrome in London, is that it is no longer a theatre, per se, but now a casino. Having never set foot in one before, it proved to counteract the elegance of my evening spent in their cabaret setting. The stage has partly become a bar and the rest on the first floor a cabaret venue. It felt cosy and intimate, although waiters going back and for taking peoples order of food and drink are a slight distraction from the wonderful goings on stage.
Leaving the cabaret and heading to the toilet, I was greeted with show girls all around one of the bars. They danced in skimpy little burlesque costumes. I rolled my eyes as I ventured to the toilets. I’m sure a few people would have seen me do so. Those things aside, I would most certainly return.
More Novello for the stage and concert hall I say!