The Theatre Channel continue their fantastic series of episodic filmed productions of West End performers singing songs they may not have done before. A co-production from Adam Blanshay Productions and The Theatre Cafe where the rest of the series has been primarily filmed, this time they have gone on an excursion - teaming up with Regent's Park Open Air Theatre for an episode completely filmed there.
Taking the action outside of its usual setting makes this episode feel unique and refreshingly different. While at times you might miss the homeliness and comfort of our regular setting, the picturesque backgrounds during this episode more than make up for it and make us feel like we are having a much deserved holiday (If only).
Opening with images of the beautiful theatre, the episode uses locations all around Regent's Park. Each episode of The Theatre Channel is themed and this one is all about the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein. Each performance is interspersed with an interview from Ted Chapin, the former President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization who offers a unique insight into some of their most famous shows and segues seamlessly into each following performance.
As always, some fantastic names have gathered to pay tribute to these legendary writers/composers. Beginning with the resident ensemble The New Cafe Five, consisting of Anthony Starr, Danny Becker, Kayleigh Thadani, M-Jae Cleopatra Isaac and Vicki Lee Taylor - five supremely talented performers who open the show with a medley from the Rodgers & Hammerstein revue A Grand Night For Singing dressed in instantly recognisable outfits from some of their iconic shows.
Caroline Sheen takes on 'I Whistle A Happy Tune' from The King & I, Amara Okereke tackles 'Love, Look Away' from Flower Drum Song, Josefina Gabrielle delivers a brilliant and sassy rendition of 'The Gentleman Is A Dope' from Allegro while Daniel Koek takes on 'This Nearly Was Mine' from South Pacific.
The episode also brilliantly has provided a platform for recent ArtsEd graduates Ethlinn Rose and Tavio Wright who perform a fantastic 'Sixteen Going On Seventeen' from The Sound of Music and prove why they will definitely be ones to watch in the future.
The highlight of the episode came at the end with Michael Xavier performing a medley of 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music and 'You'll Never Walk Alone' from Carousel. The episode cleverly avoids showing any footage from inside the Open Air Theatre throughout the episode, choosing instead to film around the park and the backstage area. The moment Michael bursts on to the stage backed with The New Cafe Five for 'You'll Never Walk Alone' provides an emotional highlight and only heightens the lyrics of both songs performed. It has been an uphill climb to get back on to the stage after this last year but together we have made it through. A fantastic metaphor which only went to make an already stunning performance even more special.
The episode ends with a Behind The Scenes look at the upcoming summer production of Carousel at Open Air Theatre - the very reason this venue joined forced for this particular episode.
The Theatre Channel always delivers. With six flawless episodes to their name, the seventh is a markedly different affair but just as fantastic. With fantastic performances brilliantly filmed at a gorgeous setting, this latest episode is a wonderful addition to an already stellar series.