London’s West End has the gorgeous and complex Company, where director Marianne Elliot has flipped the show on its head by a wonderful gender-swap. Up north, we get to revel in the review and celebration of Sondheim’s most exceptional work as Hope Mill Theatre, Aria Entertainment & Neil Eckersley present the festive treat Putting It Together.
Set in a Manhattan loft apartment, couples socialise while Andrew Gallo on looks and narrates the interactions and guides the audience through the changing feelings and emotions that arise at the Christmas cocktail party.
Setting out the rules for the evening, Gallo’s performance of “Invocations and Instructions to the Audience” from “The Frogs” prepares the audience for a whirlwind of a show.
Throughout the show, you hear some of Stephen Sondheim’s classic masterpieces, but with a new meaning, such as Pretty Women (from Sweeney Todd) is performed as a gentle and tender love song, played wonderfully by newcomer Alex Cardall and Gavin James.
The music performed was stripped back from the full flash orchestra, and just accompanied by Michael Webborn’s terrific piano playing. Stripping the show of the band meant that the focus was on the words of the music, which added to the audience seeing the songs in a new light.
For me, the show stealer has to be Lauren James Ray, whose facial expressions and comic timing made her a delight to watch on stage, particularly in “Here’s To the Ladies Who Lunch”.
The small and talented cast never stop, and Bronagh Lagan’s great direction paired with William Whelton’s complex choreography showcases the talented performers’ ability.
Putting It Together is a real honour to be able to see in such an intimate theatre. You will want to see this production again and come back for more of the drama that the party comes with.
A pleasure to watch from start to finish. You won’t want it to end.
Putting It Together is on at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 24th November tickets available here.