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Review: Emma Whitelaw

FOLLOWING its debut at London's Arts Theatre in November, Notes From New York continued its run of success on Sunday night.

The atmosphere in the Donmar Warehouse was electric. For a performance bearing no structure whatsoever, Notes From New York, directed by David Randall, with musical staging by Paul Spicer, proved to be as captivating as any other.

Not being a great fan of the musical genre myself, I initially found the lack of plot somewhat hard to handle, but the performances of Paul Spicer, Julie Atherton, Debbie Kurup and Craig Purnell, soon put that to rest.

The evening was a showcase of works by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Jonathon Larson (Rent, Tick Tick Boom) and the Tony Award-winning William Finn (A New Brain, Falsettos, Infinite Joy) alongside a selection of songs by Jason Robert Brown (Songs for a New World, Parade, The Last Five Years).

In a cabaret-style setting, the audience was treated to an exclusive preview of contemporary US musical theatre.

Yet to receive a UK or European staging, the performance featured four songs from Larson's Tick Tick Boom. With international rights to the show being closely controlled by the Larson Estate, it was a real privilege for not only the audience but for all involved.

The songs featured were, of course, brilliantly performed by the four young stars.

Having seen Paul Spicer (pictured) play Billy, in Boy George's critically acclaimed Taboo, I knew I was not going to be disappointed.

In fact, all four of them were dazzling, each as talented as the next. Such performances are inspirational!

Debbie Kurup stole the show, however, with Just One Step from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World. She had one-handedly held the audience in fits of laughter, with her comical rendition of the song, which involves a woman threatening her partner, Murray, that she is going to jump from a building.

Kurup, currently starring as Dee Dee in Tonight's the Night, followed that up with an excellent version of Come To Your Senses, from Tick Tick Boom.

Kurup has the most amazing voice - not only can she reach the hardest and highest of notes, she was able to hold them there for what seemed like forever.

As an ensemble, the quartet was just amazing.

Songs like And They're Off (A New Brain), Will I (Rent) and Hitchhiking Across America (Infinite Joy) were performed by all members of the group, and sounded brilliant, as was Louder Than Words (Tick Tick Boom), which brought the evening to a fitting finale.

Further performances are scheduled for July and September this year, so if you are keen to get an insight into the latest and hottest US musical theatre, I recommend you visit www.notesfromnewyork.co.uk

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