Wednesday, August 06, 2014


The John Wilson Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall
BBC Proms

Semi-staged in name only, this was a show of West End proportions and outstanding talents. A bigger stage than My Fair Lady in 2012, and a restored version of the score, played with Wilson's trademark lush precision.
Including so many dance sequences meant that we heard loads of orchestral numbers, and saw some amazing choreography. Too Darn Hot, for instance, with Jason Pennycooke, or Tony Yazbeck's tireless “Bianca” tap routine [as Calhoun/Lucentio].
The Shrew herself was Broadway star Alexandra Silber, giving a bold, sassy performance plenty big enough to fill this vast arena. Her tamer was Ben Davis, suitably arrogant and self-regarding.
James Docherty and Michael Jibson were the “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” heavies, excellent in their menacing adoration of Miss Vanessi, with a welcome gag about “like being on the inside of a birthday cake”.
But, as ever, the biggest pit band in captivity was the real star here, with the dapper, enthusiastic Wilson relishing every note, every encore, of Porter's rich, timeless score.

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