Can't Smile Without You
Take two or three popular ingredients, including one of the world's favourite singer songwriters, the phenomenally favourite medium of the TV reality shows, two reality-TV show contestants, a 90's Popstar and Bill Kenwright's ideas, directorial and production skillsand what is the result? In this case we get "Can't Smile Without You", the new Barry Manilow Musical.
Based very loosely on one UK bands attempt to enter a reality TV show in the USA. Tony Lowiman (Chesney Hawkes) and the members of his band whilst on a stag weekend in LA blag an audition for a TV show, but Jeff (Howard Samuels) wants a solo artist and that would be Tony. Jeff's PA Amanda (Siobhan Dillon) dislikes Tony at first but his new song 'Mandy' melts her heart, this instant mutual attraction is shattered by Tony's return to the UK. Tony's fiancé Lucy (Francesca Jackson) believing the wedding may be off turns to Scott (Edward Handoll), band member and Tony's best man, for comfort. Returning to the UK Tony is attacked after the band's first gig, leaving him critically injured with a total loss of memory. His ability to play music and memory for most songs is however not affected.
How will Tony, Lucy, Scott and Mandy progress? Will Tony's memory return? To which lovely lady will he say 'Can't Smile Without You'!
Chesney Hawkes, himself a singer songwriter is still touring with his own band. Probably most remembered for the pop song 'The One and Only' I had the pleasure of seeing him in the musical 'MacGregor's Trap' during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. He makes a very handsome and musically talented Tony.
Leading ladies Siobhan Dillon and Francesca Jackson both experienced the buzz and hard work associated with Reality TV shows. Siobhan, in 'How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?' and Francesca, in the recent 'I'd Do Anything'. I had to ask both ladies what it is like to be ever associated with the set of the show they are working on having the dreaded bilateral stairs. After watching them sing live week after week there is no doubt both these ladies are superbly talented.
Edward Handoll as Scott has previously visited Edinburgh, like Chesney, whilst performing in the Fringe Festival. His tall dark good looks and dreamy voice are a perfect foil for Mr Hawkes, who needs to watch out for his co-star. Edward not only sings, he plays guitar and piano.
Howard Samuels as Jeff, provides most of the comedy, one scene in particular to look out for is The European Music Awards where they do a pastiche on 'Copacabana'.
The other members of 'The Romantics' are Michael Kantola as Dougie, Gavin Stenhouse as Flynn and Robin Johnson as Pat. Hats off to these ultra talented young men who along with Edward Handoll not only play live on stage they move up and join the band on guitars and drums. The other members of the band are MD, John Maher, AMD, John Rutledge, Matt Tubman, Rosie Nicholl, Mark Ferrell and Matt French.
The other performing members of the company are Reuven Gershon, Sam Palladio, Kate Ray, Jade Steele and Richard Taylor Woods.
'Can't Smile Without You' is a great fun musical enjoyable whether you like Barry Manilow or not. The superbly talented cast are well worth watching from an aesthetic point of view and also to enjoy brilliant musicality. For further information see www.kenwright.com for information on 'Can't Smile Without You' and all other current Bill Kenwright productions.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Another CSWY Review
I've just stumbled across this review today that I thought you might like, along with a few different pics including Siobhan and Chesney, Edward Handoll, Howard Samuels and Our Fran.