I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical

I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical

Live at Zédel at the Crazy Coqs, London, UK, April 9, 2018

Review by Thanasis Kalantzis for Cabaret Scenes

Theater-goers don’t usually think much of the process that leads from the genesis of an idea for a theatrical project to its final presentation on stage. Sitting comfortably in our seats, full of anticipation of the story that’s about to unfold and the cast that’s going to act it, all we care about is what takes place in front of us, the end result, without shedding a second thought of what’s happening or has happened backstage. And yet, if we listen carefully, we can’t but hear the shuffling sound of a Broadway Baby’s “tired feet pounding 42nd Street” (or Shaftesbury Avenue on our shores), in the hope that her “dreams will be repaid” and that she will eventually see her name on a marquee even if she has to “play the maid.”

In his new musical revue, I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical, highly talented and seasoned composer, lyricist, and music director Alexander S. Bermange sets out to explore the ups and downs, mostly downs, that actors have to endure in order to secure a place in the spotlight—if they ever get that far—and ultimately figure out what it takes to break into the business there’s like no other.

Sometimes dry, ironic, even cynical, other times uplifting and hopeful, the 18 original songs that Bermange has written are sincere, tapping directly into feelings not only of aspiring actors, but of all people in pursuit of their dreams: endless preparation, sacrifices, disappointments, rejections and, of course, backstabbing. Above all, his lyrics are simply hilarious, revealing the creator’s genius in comic songwriting.

The cast is comprised by four abundantly gifted singers and West End stars.

Suzie Mathers (Company, Wicked, Cinderella, Mamma Mia!) shone with her versatility and excellent voice control in “I Love to Sing” with its many, many changes in pitch and off-key notes.

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She also discussed the perils of the profession in “When a Fan Loves a Woman,” and brought the house down with her sizzling and powerful “The Diva’s in the House.

X-Factor semi-finalist Diana Vickers (The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, The Rocky Horror Show), using a array of singing styles to take us through the practical and emotional investment required by the performer, was amazing in “Auditions” or in “I Love to Sing,” where she insists she will continue trying despite the fear of failure.

Liam Tamne (The Phantom of the Opera, The Rocky Horror Show, Wicked) was delightful as he tried to find his way around the labyrinth of different musical keys in “The Key Problems.” Then, in “Only Then I Can Truly Perform,” took us on a tour de force through a performer’s routine, and, in “Standing By,” he lamented about the fate of the actor who goes on stage in place of the star.

Finally, Oliver Savile (Company, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked) was superb in “A Sorry Story” that reveals the hypochondriac nature of many actors, while in “A Serious Actor” he assured us that musical theater is good, but he wants more.

With “Stuck in the Ensemble,” songwriter and dazzling pianist Bermange gave us a solo on how sick he was of being the decorative part, and how much he wished he had his own dressing room.

Why, then, should anybody bother if that’s how show the business operates?

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With “It’s Lovely Being a Luvvie” the ensemble assures us that it is worth the while, for there’s nothing better and more magical than being a luvvie.

The truth is that there were some jokes that fell flat and the dialogue connecting the songs (read through cue cards) was in need of some polishing, but the bottom line is that I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical is a fun, clever, insightful, witty, and a thoroughly hilarious attempt to reveal the side of “the business” audiences should never be aware of.

The show was directed by Paul Foster (A Little Night Music, Annie Get Your Gun, Sweet Charity), while Jerome Van Den Berghe, along with Bermange, was the music co-arranger.

Thanasis Kalantzis

Thanasis started reviewing for Cabaret Scenes in 2012. He started by reviewing primarily jazz and cabaret artists visiting from the U.S., but these days, he concentrates on British talent. Recently, he added covering musical theater to his duties. He was born in the heart of rural Greece in 1967. He studied Archaeology at the University of Thessaloniki, worked as an excavator in the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, Santorini, and then spent two years on the beautiful island of Crete excavating a Roman village, among other sites. In 1991 he moved to London to study for his MA in Archaeology at University College London thinking that, upon completion, he’d return to Greece and continue with his excavation work. Nevertheless, he gave this amazingly diverse city a go, and started working with various companies, including the Horniman Museum, Sotheby’s and, most recently, the Big Lottery Fund, the organization that allocates lottery funds to arts and charities. His been in London for 26 years, and is happily married to his husband and runs a small, successful business.