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The Landor delivers yet another Class Act!

Review by David Munro

THE Landor Theatre celebrates its tenth year of presenting great shows in difficult circumstances with A Class Act.

Over the years, my predecessor, Paul Nelson has extolled the quality of their productions and the abilities of their directors, Linda Edwards and Robert McWhir, to bring glamour talent and expertise onto a pocket- handkerchief sizTed stage.

I have accompanied him to many of these productions as a member of the public and, like him, have wondered at how efficient these productions were.

It is true, other companies and other directors have been represented over the years, but Robert and Linda were the hard core of steel which kept the theatre going and ensured that the standards of quality and taste which they instituted were adhered to.

Linda has now moved on and the burden of succession has fallen fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Robert McWhir, who shows with this production of A Class Act that he is a worthy successor to Linda and if he keeps up the quality of production, as was shown last night, will surpass her in his achievements.

The Landor is only a few stops on the Northern line from Leicester Square, and I would strongly advise you to buy a ticket and venture down to Clapham North, for this production is as good as you will get anywhere in the West End, or dare I say it, Broadway, on or off.

The show was originally devised by two friends of the unsuccessful songwriter and musical comedy composer, Edward Klaban, whose only claim to fame was the fact that he wrote the lyrics for A Chorus Line.

I had not realised until last night what an accomplished composer he was and why his friends felt that his memory should be perpetuated in a retrospective of his compositions.

What they devised was a whistle stop tour of his life and frustrations showcasing his songs using them to illustrate the various aspects of his life.

It is a small show and perfect for a theatre like the Landor. More than that, however, Robert Mc Whir has assembled a cast who sing and dance with charm and aplomb, and make this tribute to an unknown, a positive joy in its own right.

Anthony Houghton brings just the right touch of arrogance and despair to the part of Ed Klaban apart from which he is no mean performer when it comes to a song and dance.

As his friends, lovers and collaborators, Vanessa Karlsson, John Stacey, Sarah Wadell, Barry Fantoni, Morgan Williams, Zoe Smith and Naomi Lewis act, sing and dance up a storm, and without losing their individual personalities act as perfect background chorus to his undeserved failure.

Some of the credit is due to the simple but effective choreography of Cathie Carday, which displays the talents of her cast and is well suited to the limitations of the stage on which they have to perform.

This show deserves to be seen by a greater audience than it will attract in Clapham. It is tuneful, performed with zest and leaves you, to quote one of its numbers, wanting 'One more beautiful song'.

Thank you, Robert and your cast, for a great evening of theatre and I await, salivating, for your next opus, although I doubt whether you will top this.

I may live to eat these words – I hope so !

A Class Act, by Linda Kline and Lonny Price.
Lyrics and Music by Edward Klaban (and Marvin Hamlisch); Directed by Robert McWhir; Choreographer, Cathie Carday; Lighting, Richard Lambert; Costumes, Paul Tate; Musical Director, David Randall.
CAST: Vanessa Karlsson; John Stacey; Anthony Houghton; Sarah Wadell; Barry Fantoni; Morgan Williams; Zoe Smith; Naomi Lewis.
Presented by Robert McWhir for The Landor Theatre.
Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, Clapham.
Sept 6 – Oct 2, Oct 2004
Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Box Office: 020 7737 7276

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