Theatre is a living breathing thing, it grows, it adapts and it continues to be a big part of our lives even one week into a second national lockdown. With such successes as The Leave A Light On concert series, The Last Five Years in Lockdown, Songs for a New World and First Date, Lambert Jackson Productions have faced the challenges of 2020 head on and beaten the odds. Their newest Digital offering, Title of Show, brought comedy, fun and relatability to the audiences at home.
Title of Show, a one act musical, tells the story of the creation of a new musical and the shows journey to Broadway. With music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen and a book by Hunter Bell, it’s a show inside a show about a show depicting it’s own creation as an entry to the New York Musical Theatre Festival and beyond.
The four person cast consisting of Marc Elliot (Jeff), Tyrone Huntley (Hunter), Lucie Jones (Heidi) and Jenna Russell (Susan) all ooze star power. Elliot and Huntley are a comedy double act force to be reckoned with, with a tonne of banter between the pair. They also pull at the heartstrings with their big dream number ‘Part of it All’ with vocals raising the roof. Jones fizzes with energy as Heidi, full of stories of strange auditions and powerhouse vocals, particularly impressing in ‘The Way Back to Then’ and Russell delights in the role of Susan, stuck in a dreary day job but basking in the glory of creating a new show with Jeff and Hunter. Whether pretending to be a spirit guide or pulling out all of the poses in an awkward photoshoot, you can’t help but love this character.
The songs are are catchy and fun, highlighting the joy and passion that goes into creating a piece of theatre. With nearly every word said part of the show they are creating’s script, apart of brief breaks to argue or fuss over what word rhymes best with Theatre, the dialogue flows into the musical numbers naturally, keeping the action moving forwards at a nice pace. A stand out moments was ‘An Original Musical’ which sees Huntley singing as a sock puppet masquerading as a blank piece of paper, encouraging Elliot’s Jeff to write something original and listing a great number of shows that have proved popular on Broadway, from movie adaptation to jukebox musicals, with many a reference to make a theatre fanatic laugh. I also enjoyed ‘Die, Vampire, Die’ where Susan personify worries, fears and the type of people you meet when creating a show as various vampire characters. Funny but also very true at some points, in particular when talking about a vampire that likes to keep you up at night telling you that you cannot do something.
There’s tonnes of references that many would understand, especially in ‘Monkey’s and Playbills’ and slipped into the dialogue here and there. After all, it seems that even an American character can have an obsession with ‘the British Baking Show’. Filmed in a rehearsal room at The London Coliseum, following all of the Covid secure rules, you never see the cast any less than 2 metres apart from each other. Whilst it all looks very safe, this does make it feel different, still good, just different. Some of the jokes feel a little old, like trying to make some sort of rivalry between the two girls that doesn’t really amount to anything and the camera work was a little shaky at times, but this doesn’t distract from the fun and joy of it all.
To conclude, Title of Show is a lot of fun. It’s format allows it to make fun of itself whilst remaining very relatable and true for both theatre lovers and theatre makers. It’s talented cast bring this show about a show to life with bundles of energy, and the story that highlights the happiness of making a show fits with the current situation the theatre industry is in.