It’s Only Life: Union Theatre, London
Reviewed 17th June 2018
It’s Only Life is a musical revue featuring songs by John Bucchino. It’s Only Life is about life itself with its highs and lows, triumphs and loses. This UK premiere comes from Aria Entertainment; the production team responsible for Pippin, Yank!, The Addams Family and Hair.
The songs in this musical revue are real mix bag from sentimental ballads to up-beat comic numbers. Whilst some of the funnier lyrics and songs fell slightly flat with today’s audience, the ballads are sung from the heart. Jennifer Harding, in particular, acts through song with real conviction and embodies each character she portrays. All of the small cast of five have their moment to shine and each member certainly knows how to convey meaning through song. Unfortunately, some of the songs feel unfinished or slightly lacking in power. It is a shame that the ensemble numbers are sparse as this is definitely where this cast excel. The harmonies created during the limited number of whole cast numbers are gorgeous and each member’s voice compliment each other.
Newcomers to the stage, Sammy Graham and Will Carey take on a number of characters and plot lines during this production focusing on life itself and both do a fantastic job. They are able to show emotion and connect through song. Jordan Shaw delivers sublime vocals with his smooth, silky voice and Noel Sullivan proves that he is more than just a ‘pop-star’ with his brilliant vocals.
The multi-levelled set, designed by Justin Williams and Jonny Rust, works well to create the different locations and ensure good sight lines for the audience. The small stage is utilised well however, whilst the white and pastel theme is consistent throughout the show, it doesn’t add much to the show. Neither does the lighting, by Clancy Flynn, as at times the lead vocalists are in the shadows and at others the bland-blue lighting fails to add any impact to the songs lyrics. However, the choreography, by William Whelton, is simple but very effective. It certainly helps to tell the stories, particularly during some of the more emotional songs.
The concept for this musical is brilliant; a set of songs focusing on life. It certainly has highlights and most of the songs are beautifully performed. But are they memorable? It is a nice little show and the audience are certainly made to think about the main theme ‘nothing lasts forever, except love. Fear is what we learn, love is who we are’.
It’s Only Life runs at The Union Theatre until the 7th July 2018. For information or tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Pamela Raith