Seasons of Larson
Reviewed by Richard Lambert 25/1/16
Produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment and Guy James
at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
Directed by Grant Murphy
Lighting Design by Andrew Ellis
On 25th January 1996, the morning of Rent’s first preview on Broadway, Jonathan Larson, its composer, died unexpectedly: he was only 35 years old. He never got to see the worldwide success and universal recognition of his work.
(Photo Credit: Claire Bilyard)
20 years to the day since his passing, Seasons of Larson is presented as a celebration of Jonathan Larson.
I have no idea why a show dedicated to the music of Larson has not been done before, but what a fantastic idea! Katy Lipson’s talent for concerts and her enormous experience within musical theatre has created a masterpiece of an evening that was truly wonderful! With an audience chock-full of professionals from the London Live Theatre Industry, outstanding cast, 12 Backing vocalists and 7 Live Musicians, this was a show to remember!
The Musical Choices, the arrangements, the pace, and the Sound Bites of Voicemail messages – all perfectly conceived and executed! Not a dull moment anywhere! Seasons of Love from Rent is possibly Larson’s most well-known song. It was not only performed as a Song in its own right, but also as an underscore for some of the narrative. If you’d like a reminder of the beauty of this song, here’s a link: Seasons of Love
Cast: Debbie Kurup, Kyrsten Cummings, Damien Flood, Anton Stephans, and Noel Sullivan.
A special mention has to be given to Debbie Kurup who absolutely rocked!
The Stage Design (Adrian Gee) was very rock n’roll: Larsen’s photo placed centre stage on touring crates. This was a gentle touch and nicely referenced by the Cast a couple of times during the evening. Sound Designer was Andrew Johnson.
The resident production of “Thriller” provided the in-situ pre-existing lighting rig. It was predominantly Spot and Wash Mac700s with back and side light and an overhead curved truss. Some nice side ACL Fans and Blinders punched here and there, some front of house Source Fours for Facial wash, and 2 “get out of jail” Follow-Spots completed the package.
The incredibly talented Lighting Designer, Andrew Ellis, used the in-house Orb lighting control console to create the many different looks for this show. He chose subtle pastel tints in the 1st half, and bolder colour choices in the 2nd half, building to Finale with more Effects and Blinders whipping up the audience! Just perfect, all really nice, all very sensitive to the production and the audience’s musical theatre “taste”.
With only a one day “in and out” Andrew still managed to create many different states, perfectly Cued for the Pace of the Show, expressive of the musical nuances, with transitions to match. This all helped grip the audience. Yes, the audience were moved, some had tears, and yes there was a standing ovation!
Andrew Ellis is definitely one of the UK’s young lighting designers to note.
This concert was an outstanding achievement and Andrew showed how to do it!