Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Singer Must Die... Sept 25, 2013 ****

...and other bedtime stories
By Melissa Langton & Mark Jones
Chapel off Chapel, Sept 24 until Sept 29, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review  also published in Herald Sun in print on Sunday Sept 29, 2013 and online at H Sun.

In her intelligently structured and irreverent solo show, A Singer Must Die... and other bedtime stories, Melissa Langton explores songs from the dark side – tempered with plenty of black comedy.

Langton is an audacious, impressive music theatre/cabaret performer and this production, directed by her equally accomplished partner, Mark Jones, showcases her prodigious talent.

She opens with Leonard Cohen’s A Singer Must Die, a bleak but witty tune that features a disenchanted singer who laments, “I’m sorry for smudging the air with my song.”

Accompanied by her talented pianist, Stephen Gray, Langton shifts effortlessly from bold jazz numbers, to gospel, latin beats and ballads, commanding the space with her formidable voice, broad vocal range and assured, professional and passionate delivery.

The themes may be grim – disillusion, death, despair, failed love, revenge – but Langton peppers the show with waggish, whimsical or brooding characters that weave their stories of woe amongst the lyrics.

In the perky I Don’t Think I’ll End It All Today, Langton airily sings about choosing not to suicide, then later sings Chuck Brodsky’s riotously vengeful number, Blow ‘Em Away, as a demented, dumped lover.

She delivers with passion the power ballad, Waiting for Charlie to Come Home (Bacharach/David), and then, portraying a widow mourning her husband, breaks our hearts by merging the two poignant songs, It Was A Good Time (Jarre) and Who Gave You Permission? (Bergman/Goldenberg).

There is plenty of fire and brimstone with Here Comes the Flood (Hannon) and Jacques Brel’s mischievous tune, Le Diable (Ca Va), that celebrates the business of wickedness from the devil’s viewpoint.

Did Jesus Have A Sister (Dory Previn) is a provocative and funny tune, while Internet Love (Dillie Keane) reminds women not to lie in their internet dating profiles, and Betty and Tom tells an eccentric love story about a bearded lady and her four-inch tall lover.

Burned (Franz Landesman) is a startling, moving and poetic piece that challenges us with forbidding, dark lyrics such as, “He burned me with his conman’s hands...his holy madman’s eyes.”

A Singer Must Die is a funny and stirring show that beautifully balances complex songs and uncomfortable subject matter with quirky characters, dialogue and Langton’s remarkable voice.

By Kate Herbert

Song list                                                                                  

A Singer Must Die – Leonard Cohen
I Don’t Think I’ll End It All Today – Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg
The Art Teacher – Rufus Wainwright
Did Jesus Have A Sister – Dory Previn
Through the Long and Sleepless Night – Neil Hannon
Waiting for Charlie to Come Home – Burt Bacharach/Hal David
Internet Love – Dillie Keane
Here Comes the Flood – Neil Hannon
Le Diable (Ca Va) – Jacques Brel
It Was A Good Time – Maurice Jarre
Who Gave You Permission? – Alan & Marilyn Bergman/ Billy Goldenberg
Blow ‘Em Away – Chuck Brodsky
Highwayman – Jimmy Webb
The Doctor – Loudon Wainwright

 Performed by – Melissa Langton

Accompanied by – Stephen Gray

Directed by – Mark Jones

Musically Directed by – Mark Jones

Sound/Lighting – Steph Kleeman

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