IF IT ONLY EVEN RUNS A MINUTE – Hippodrome Casino, London.
If It Only Even Runs a Minute is a concert series originally established in New York, and has since been transferred over here by TinyHuge Productions, led by Oliver Southgate. Its objective is to revive under-appreciated musical scores and re-introduce them to audiences, and after 2 smaller shows on the fringe, its third incarnation takes place at the trendy Matcham Room at Leicester Square’s Hippodrome Casino.
For the most part, the show works well. It is carried largely by the breadth of talent that Oliver’s team have secured, with well-established and revered artists like Michael Matus, combined with fresher talent like the impressive Matthew Rowland.
Oliver Southgate acts as host and performer, alongside Lydia Grant and whilst both are charming, there is some refinement needed before it works smoothly. The links between each song are far too long; outlining the concept and history of each song before it’s performed gives us much-needed context (particularly as so many of the songs features are potentially unfamiliar), but this technique only works well if kept to under a minute.
Both Southgate and Grant provide accomplished performances when switching out of host-mode and the rest of the ensemble don’t disappoint either. Christopher Bartlett owns the stage when tackling ‘Ode to the Brooklyn Bridge’ from 1965s Kelly, proving to be a charismatic and powerful vocalist. Other notable turns from Damian Humbley and Michael Matus and the glorious Lend me a Tenor. We are told how this show was described as a “dime a dozen” production by one critic when it opened back in 2010, followed swiftly by Humbley and Matus bringing the house down with the rousing ‘Be Yourself’. Hardly a “dime a dozen” performance, and it was a joy to see it again.
What really works with this production, which other similar concert productions should learn from, is the stage time given to each performer to talk to the audience. Comical anecdotes and backstage stories enhance the evening and create an engaging atmosphere. Illustrating this perfectly, Sarah Ingram’s devilish self-deprecation during her time on stage was one of the funniest moments of the evening. If It Only Runs a Minute knows its strengths lie in the calibre of talent, and is admirably milking it for all it’s worth.
The concept is innovative and inspired, and with refinement it could really take flight, but a slicker production and better timings are necessary to ensure that it doesn’t become a victim of its own subject matter and end before its time.
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