Tell Me on a Sunday play review
Director: David Coddington
Starring: Carly Binding
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Don Black
Some know her as the original ‘Popstar’ of reality television while some list her among the most popular voices of New Zealand. But just recently, Carly Binding appeared in a brand new role: a musical theatre artiste.
The pop singer-songwriter’s lead debut in musical theatre with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1980’s one-woman musical Tell Me on a Sunday unveiled a side to her that not many must have imagined existed, that of a true-blue actress. An actress, who can fabulously emote through her voice and who can hold together an entire show without much support – except for Lloyd Webber’s soothing compositions and Don Black’s emotionally driven lyrics of course.
So as we heard Carly’s voice reign the little stage at Q Theatre’s Loft this month and saw her move swiftly on stage, slipping smoothly into a dozen costumes in full view of the audience... her expressions perfectly in-sync while hitting the high-low notes... we wondered if this pop artiste could have asked for a better comeback after being away from the limelight all these years.
With the story of a girl, whose poor luck with love takes her through a string of unsuccessful romantic liaisons from UK to USA, Carly returns as quite a package. With Tell Me on a Sunday, she not only pushes her ability as a singer but also establishes an engaging stage presence. You can hardly take eyes off her during the hour she is on stage and especially impresses with a delightful display of versatility, crooning numbers ranging from the zingy Take That Look Off Your Face, where she adds as much attitude and retaliation as vulnerability in Its Not the End of the World.
Apart from Carly’s performance though, the main draw of Tell Me on a Sunday remained the music and lyrics. Boasting of having some of the best songs by Lloyd Webber, Tell Me... is among his most intense musicals. And as much as its subject has often been termed as running the risk of lacking mass appeal, it’s hard not to relate to the lead character’s journey of loss and hope, a theme that certainly has universal resonance. In addition, Don Black’s simple yet meaningful lyrics provide the required accessibility to the songs.
Also, director David Coddington refrains from making his adaptation melodramatic. Unlike many of the earlier productions, he keeps the proceedings straight forward and has a minimalistic approach towards the production value too. Thus, the focus never deviates from the central character.
For Carly Binding fans, this was a good chance to get up-close with their favourite popstar and see her do what she does best along with adding a whole new dimension to her personality.