Liza Pulman and Joe Stilgoe are a melodious match made in theatrical heaven as they team up to perform a joyful mix of The Great American Song Book and some classic duets in A Couple Of Swells.
The duo initially paired up online during lockdown, and found out that they had a dynamic musical connection merged with a kindred sense of humour. So, creating a live stage production together once the pandemic was over, was the next natural step for them.
The title of the show is based on the film Easter Parade (1947), where Judy Garland and Fred Astaire as a couple of tramps attired in worn out clothing cast off by the super-rich or ‘swells,’ irreverently sing ‘We’re a Couple of Swells’.
Liza Pulman is one-third of the acclaimed satirical comedy group Fascinating Aida, and her thirty-year career has encompassed music, theatre and comedy, from Glyndebourne Opera through to West End musical theatre.
Joe Stilgoe is a Radio 4 regular on shows including Loose Ends and five of his albums have topped the UK Jazz chart. Stilgoe grew up surrounded by musicality, and his parents are witty songwriter and TV personality Richard Stilgoe and opera singer Annabel Hunt.
In this old-fashioned vaudeville style show, Stilgoe’s masterly piano playing is complimented by Pulman’s charming vocals.
There is a slick chemistry between couple and their creative symbiosis is perfectly encompassed early on by a song written by Stilgoe himself called ‘Harmony.’
The production is indeed sprinkled with sumptuous harmonies, and these are sublimely grandstanded in the adroit mash-up’s of ‘People Will Say We’re in Love/ If I Loved you’ and ‘The Folks Who Live on the Hill/Their Hearts Were full of Spring.’
Stillgoe is brimming with amicable schoolboy humour, and a highlight of the evening is when he asks the audience to name any song they want to hear, from which he waggishly creates a medley of ditties ranging from from ‘Nellie the Elephant’, Duran Duran and Billy Joel.
Individually, Pulman shines in the more dramatically meaty numbers like ‘I Had Myself a True Love’ and ‘What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?’ All in all it’s a swell evening to be had by all.