New 4Star

A musical, but not in the traditional sense, ‘Edges’ from Pasek and Paul has arrived at the London Theatre Workshop, opening with a bang and a well-deserved standing ovation. A new company, ‘Peak Productions’, led by Michael Auger has lovingly taken a masterpiece, injected it with a whole load of talent and left the opening-night audience basking in its’ wonder.

Director, Jordan Murphy, has managed to create a bright, airy and peaceful park above a noisy London pub. Here is the setting for a series of vignettes that tell the story of coming of age, planning futures and some serious soul searching. What is beautiful about Murphys’ work is that this piece is so well staged you forget it is actually staged at all, and you find yourself believing it’s all unfolding quite naturally before your eyes.

Chris Barton proved himself a vocal powerhouse, turning from tender ballad to comedy ditty with absolute ease. The audience certainly appreciated his rendition of “In Short” while the duet “I Hmm You” was another crowd pleaser.

Lauren Allan clearly learned her craft well, and Glasgow would certainly be proud of this performance. Excelling, in particular, in “Caitlyn and Haley” and “Man of my Dreams” she held the audience in the palm of her hand throughout.

Robert Woodward has a beautifully tender voice that just seems to caress the air around you. In “Boy with Dreams” he painted such a vivid picture of those dreams that I was captivated by his world of possibilities. His physical performance was particularly engrossing, his whole body a freshly painted canvas of raw emotion.

I don’t think it will be too long until Claudia Kariuki is competing with the likes of Beverley Knight and Kerry Ellis for those big West End roles. Her unbelievable vocals swallowed the venue whole, the power she can produce is extraordinary and in “I’ve Gotta Run” not only did she impress vocally but also tapped in to the inner mind turmoil that the song needs to get the message across.

As individuals, the cast are superb, but together, they are incredible. With vocal arrangements and harmonies that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention. While in numbers like “Be My Friend” and “Like Breathing” I could well have believed they had been singing together for years.

In this short song cycle, each and every one of them connected with the audience in a very special way, I felt like I was the only person in the audience and these four talented singers were performing only for me. That felt very special indeed.

Adam Smith and Nick Anderson, under the direction of Tom Lees brought out the best in the score, highlighting that unique sound of these composers.

Pasek and Paul are very talented and I’m personally a huge fan. While it’s not hard to go wrong with material of such a high standard this production just seems to get it so right on every level.

Peak productions say they aim to give exposure to those whose talents ‘NEED’ to be seen. Well this cast and this production definitely ‘NEEDS’ to be seen. Michael Auger is championing four very talented individuals who all have promising futures ahead, and I believe that he is giving them something very precious indeed. We all need a champion, but sometimes we also need to champion those we believe in. I certainly believe in the future of this production company and the cast and creatives involved.

Greg is an award-winning writer with a huge passion for theatre. He has appeared on stage, as well as having directed several plays in his native Scotland. Greg is the founder and editor of Theatre Weekly

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