Watermill Theatre - Tuxedo Junction
31st March to 11th April 2015
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
First-class ticket to ride
The Watermill's musical trip down memory lane
Tuxedo Junction, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until Saturday, April 11
Escaping from Thursday's political debate, I sat back and breathed a sigh of pure pleasure on reading the list of songs in the Tuxedo Junction programme.
The Super Chief train ran between Chicago and Los Angeles, many of its passengers being top Hollywood stars demanding high standards of service. On this particular train journey, set in 1945, we were joined by five actor/musicians who recreated the atmosphere of a time when music was either snappy and buzzing or dreamily romantic.
The incomparable Simon Slater ('a producer') compiler of the programme got our journey on tracks with wit and style, singing, playing piano, always involving the audience. Organising the audience in the singing of I Gotta Gal in Kalamazoo ("zoo, zoo, zoo") had tears of laughter running down my face. Great stuff.
It was good to see Karen Mann ('a feisty lady') back at the Watermill as a Bette Midler, complete with trumpet. Hitching up her skirts to sit astride a suitcase/horse singing The Navajo Trail, or getting Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered over 'ticket collector' (Julian Littman), she captured every mood. Littman, complete master of a wide range of musical instruments, made the put-upon railway employee a perky chap carrying the storyline along with lively classics such as the foot-tapping Aitcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe.
It was when Alexander Evans ('the RAF pilot') sang in a voice like cream being poured from a jug that nostalgia really hit home. The majority of the audience were of an age to be transported back to romantic thoughts with that nightingale singing in Berkeley Square, Blue Moon and the old heart-strings-tugger Every Time We Say Goodbye. Magical.
Then there was Sophia Nomvete ('the chanteuse') every inch a woman and all of it rhythmically moving to the music, fast or slow, whether she herself was singing - and fortunately she had a lot of singing to do - or not. Nomvete radiates music, bouncing around in group numbers such as Rum and Coca Cola, or simply, serenely singing As Time Goes By. She was a joy to watch and hear.
What an evening - "some of the best fun I've had at the theatre" said a member of the audience. And so it was.