Witty yet sincere, classic yet modern, original yet familiar, Only An Octave Apart is a show built on contrasts. The main one being the two soloists – Justin Vivian Bond, a seasoned cabaret performer, and Anthony Roth Costanzo, a classical countertenor, performing at the likes of the Met and ENO, – who join forces to bring together a 90 minute theatrical extravaganza.
Only An Octave Apart combines jokes and memories with classical singing and popular hit remixes. There are both full versions of the songs (and classic solos) and mash-ups of a few tunes, all masterfully staged and well-rehearsed. While both Bond and Costanzo feel lively and cosy during the chit-chat segments, allowing themselves to burst with laughter and take their time when needed to adapt the pace to their audience, they perform each song to perfection, staying focused and professional.
From cheerful and hopeful, to sorrowful and broken, back to inspired and empowered – that is the emotional journey they take us on. The most memorable numbers are Edith Piaf’s ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘Deh Placatevi’, ‘Me and My Shadow’, and ‘Stars’ – which just goes to show the width of the musical repertoire of this show.
Great pieces of pantomime are also playfully incorporated into the show. At one point, the actors vocalise for each other as the voice-over actress did for the silent movie star in Singin’ In The Rain. Bond pretend-performs ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen, vocalised by Costanzo and sings a deep baritone cowboy song in return. In another, Costanzo demonstrates his great vocal range and acting versatility, filling in for both male and female parts in ‘Crudel! Perche finora’.
Light and humorous, Only An Octave Apart also makes some serious statements about society, inclusivity and sexuality. While Anthony admits feeling most comfortable performing in this show, Bond repeats their motto “Keep it pretty, keep it shallow, keep it moving”. So different yet so alike, they move from playful and competing to powerful and united in their final numbers, ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘Under Pressure’.
Stage design is minimalist, but drapes and lighting help to change the mood dramatically from one act to another. The costumes by Jonathan Anderson are truly unique and help to set the scene as much as the music and lights do.
Don’t miss Only An Octave Apart at Wilton’s Music Hall for an evening of comedy, music and an emotional roller-coaster these two great performers have brought all the way from the New York.