VERY WELL-CRAFTED – VERY PROFESSIONAL
SIR TIM RICE
Adapted from Thomas Hardy’s time-honored classic Tess of the d’Urbervilles and set in impoverished rural England during the 1870s, the story follows the doomed life of Tess Durbeyfield, the eldest daughter of Joan and John Durbeyfield. When John finds out that he may be descended from a noble Norman family, the D’Urbervilles, things start going badly wrong for Tess.
It’s not the first time this incredible storyline has been adapted for the musical theatre, but those other productions failed to ingrain themselves in the hearts of musical theatre lovers. Some musicals stay in our heads forever, others, like Chess, with a creative smorgasbord of musical and lyrical geniuses behind it Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Tim Rice and Richard Nelson, faded out of the limelight after a handful of performances.
So what will set the Blore/Davies adaptation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles apart from all the previous productions? What musical theatre magic have they woven into the score that will have future audiences on their feet and for baying an encore?
The concept album certainly whets the appetite and features vocals by some classy performers. Siobhan Dillon (Sunset Boulevard, Grease, Miss Saigon and Legally Blonde) who voices the part of Tess. Tam Mutu who has in the past wrapped his fine voice around the part of Javert in Les Mis at the Queen’s Theatre sings Alec d’Urberville.
Jacqueline Tate sings the part of Joan Durbeyfield. I so wish I had seen her play the part of one of my all-time favourite characters in musical theatre, Bloody Mary in South Pacific. But the good news is you can catch her treading the Queen’s Theatre boards in another awesome role as Madame Thénardier in Les Mis. Simon Bailey (Jersey Boys, I Can’t Sing) completes the all-star line up as Angel Clare.
Sunim Koria took on the daunting task of producing the concept album. It took 9 months, in 5 different studios to complete and it is an album that everybody involved can be immensely proud of. There are some strong, hooky, songs to reel you in. I Always Get My Way, Guardian Angel, The Wedding and Christmas Market.
Tim Rice said it far more succinctly than I, but this musical deserves to fly, although its magical musical potential will never be fully realised until the day the entire cast leap on stage and belt out the opening number The First Day of May.
So, it’s time the big guns sat up and took notice. Where are you Cameron Mackintosh?
Listen for yourself. The 2 Michaels talk to BBC Radio Northampton presenter John Griff.
For more details about the show … go to www.tessthemusical.com