Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Review: Pure Imagination - The Songs of Leslie Bricusse at the St James Theatre

Pure Imagination: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 28th September 2015

Hot on the heels of Bacharach Reimagined’s success, Pure Imagination celebrates the songs of Leslie Bricusse who is one of the most successful screen and stage composers of our time. 

I arrived at the St James Theatre unsure of how familiar I would be with Bricusse's back catalogue of work. However, I left feeling absolutely staggered that I knew around 75% of the material. It is astounding that one man could write so many truly iconic songs which are instantly recognisable for completely different reasons - the variety is insane!

Pure Imagination is essentially a theatrical concert; at times Christopher Renshaw’s production has the charm of an old-school musical revue whilst other aspects of the staging feel fresh and contemporary. The piece embraces its theatrical setting; songs are reinterpreted to tell some small stories - it's up to each audience member to decide how much they want to invest in finding the detail. 

I have two main complaints which are hugely contradictory of each other; on one hand Pure Imagination feels too long (particularly in the latter half of act one) and becomes a little robotic with cast members constantly wandering on and off to sing song after song. On the contrary it feels like some numbers are brushed passed too quickly and I was left wanting to hear more!

I guess the ultimate problem the creative team have faced is that Bricusse simply wrote too many incredible songs! From musical standards like 'In His Eyes' to belty Bond themes such as 'Goldfinger' and snappy tunes including 'Oompa-Looma Doompadee-Doo', Bricusse really has done it all!

Producer and casting director Danielle Tarento has gathered a dream company of West End talent. Niall Sheehy gives an almighty rendition of 'This Is The Moment' whilst Siobhan McCarthy and Julie Atherton unite for a spellbinding rendition of 'In His Eyes'. Dave Willetts is on fantastic form throughout, hitting all the big money notes and proving popular with the audience.

The performance of the night comes from Giles Terera who is an absolute revelation. His vocals are so effortlessly clear; during his rendition of 'The Candy Man' Terera has the audience in the palm of his hand. After being sensational all evening, Terera raised his own bar even higher with a rousing performance of 'What Kind Of Fool Am I' towards the end of the second half. 

Featuring over fifty of Bricusse's songs, it's impossible for me to pick other stand outs. The company’s harmonies are often hauntingly beautiful. They come together to close the show with 'Feeling Good' which must be one of the most recorded/covered songs ever written. All the arrangements stay true to the original whilst also giving Leslie Bricusse's music a new lease of life.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Pure Imagination: The Songs of Leslie Bricusse runs at the St James Theatre until Saturday 17th October 2015. Please visit for further information and tickets.

Read our previous interviews with Julie Atherton and Niall Sheehy

Photo Credit: Annabel Vere

No comments:

Post a Comment