Watermill Theatre - Tell Me on a Sunday
28th January to 20th February 2016
Review from Newbury Theatre.
Tell Me on a Sunday was the first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black, brought to television by Marti Webb in 1980. It’s not a musical, but a song cycle describing an English woman’s loves and losses in America. Jodie Prenger, last seen at the Watermill in Calamity Jane, stars in this one-woman show.
The best-known song is Take That Look Off Your Face which starts the show with a bang, followed by Let Me Finish; two loud, aggressive songs which suit Prenger’s feisty style, but she then shows how well she can deal with the changes of mood, going through tender, gentle, funny, disillusioned, sad. As the love affairs come and go, they are punctuated by letters home to her Mum and Dad in England, poignant and amusing.
This was a really strong and impressive performance, culminating in a reprise of Take That Look Off Your Face ending with the defiant and optimistic line “you don’t know me”.
The five-piece orchestra were hidden behind the New York skyline set, providing an unobtrusive musical backing.
After the interval Jodie came back, bubbly and relaxed, and answered pre-submitted questions from the audience. She came across as a very likeable northern lass and further endeared herself to the audience by bringing on her understudy, Jodie Beth Meyer, to sing a duet – a generous touch.
I’m not a great Lloyd Webber fan, and I didn’t have high hopes, but I was blown away by Jodie Prenger’s performance and pleasantly surprised by the music and lyrics. The show’s only on until 20th February and it’s almost sold out, so get your tickets now.
Review from the British Theatre Guide.
Jodie Prenger makes a most welcome return to Newbury’s Watermill Theatre following her superb portrayal in the title role of Calamity Jane in 2014.
This year, she gives a stellar performance as Emma in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black’s iconic song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday.
Written in the 1980s, it originally was released as a record and then a 60-minute television show starring Marti Webb.
It is a bittersweet story of a young woman from Muswell Hill who moves to New York in search of romance, love and hopefully a husband.
In this intimate musical, Prenger brings her own magical touch to the part. It’s as if she is having a confidential conversation with the audience. She skilfully convinces us that she is speaking to the other characters in the story and is totally believable.
Her rich voice is a sheer joy as she goes on an emotional journey singing tender ballads, bold feisty numbers and up beat songs.
Her first romantic encounter is in New York, where she finds out from a girlfriend, that he’s been unfaithful and pretends that she’s known all along in the song, Take That Look Off Your Face.
When she meets her next love, the Jewish Hollywood film producer Sheldon Bloom, she moves to Los Angeles and to the world of Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad. However once again things don’t work out and she returns to Manhattan.
There she meets a younger man who is a salesman who spends many days away on business and she sentimentally sings Come Back With the Same Look In Your Eyes but he has been having affairs and so another romance fails.
The theme song Tell Me on a Sunday tenderly explains the way in which she would like to experience the break up of her relationships.
Finally, she meets a married man who offers her a noon to two liaison which she accepts but when he confesses all to his wife she realises that she doesn’t love him and has being using him in order to get her green card to work in the USA.
Her poignant letters home to her mother after each relationship bring insights into her thoughts and feelings as she tries to make the best of her situations.
The wonderful score played live by the talented five musicians under the direction of Peter McCarthy is vibrant and an absolutely delightful.
After the interval, Jodie returns to the stage to answer some of the audience’s questions and introduced her understudy Jodie Beth Myer and they beautifully sang a duet together.
David Woodhead’s simple set consisting of lit models of New York famous landmarks and silhouettes works well.
Superbly directed by Paul Foster, this is a wonderful revival that was thoroughly enjoyed by the appreciative audience and is highly recommended.
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Watermill's Tell Me on a Sunday is 'musical magic'
Tell Me on a Sunday, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until February 20
If you haven't yet booked tickets for this Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black collaboration and want to enjoy a breathtaking, moving, amusing, entertaining hour of music, don't delay. This is musical magic.
Emma (Jodie Prenger) is a Muswell Hill girl with dreams. She loves her family, keeping in touch with prosaic letters home that punctuate the music, but New York has beckoned – as has one man after another – for Emma is a girl with a talent for disastrous relationships.
The striking background of lit-up skyscrapers, behind which can be glimpsed musical director Peter McCarthy, AJ Brinkman, Jennie Chilton, Moira Hartley and Neil Rowland – the brilliant musicians – adds to the atmosphere, while the Statue of Liberty establishes that this is indeed the Big Apple.
And what an opener! The gorgeous Jodie Prenger's vibrant voice packed with brave emotion telling her unseen informant to Take That Look Off Your Face, the first of the songs in the story of the girl whose dreams 'never run on time'. Twenty-five songs (including reprises) are listed. The Prenger voice never falters. This is a marathon and she crosses the tape a winner.
Yet it is not simply her singing which make this performance so memorable, rather the knack Jodie has of bringing her character to life and making her our friend. We desperately wanted things to go right for Emma, but as the music goes by, with the singer bringing out every nuance of meaning, from the highs and lows of Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad and the desperately optimistic Ready Made Life, to the haunting Tell Me on a Sunday, all we can do is admire her ability to bounce back.
In the short second half Prenger answered questions from the audience, paying a well-deserved tribute to the Watermill team, headed by director Paul Foster, and describing her experience of being in this one-woman show as "unique, different, daunting and totally thrilling". More songs – the moving Unexpected Song was sheer delight – and Jodie brought in her understudy, Jodie Beth Meyer, to end with a duet, Another Suitcase in Another Hall.
Not just a superb singer, not just an excellent actress, Jodie Prenger is a true entertainer in the every sense of the word. An unforgettable evening.
There's a review from The Reviews Hub ("an absolute tour de force... Prenger has the most astounding voice... surely one of the most memorable evenings that musical theatre can have to offer" 5 stars).