Richard Matlby Jr. and David Shire amassed a vast catalogue of songs over their many years in the business, and even by the late 1970’s they had enough to put together a musical revue under the title Starting Here, Starting Now. With a cast of just three it has become a favourite of smaller venues across the world, and appropriately returns to London to reopen The Waterloo East Theatre.
Maltby and Shire are masters of storytelling through song, each number allowing the character or characters to work through a particular issue, emotion or tragedy. No more so is that talent on display than in Starting Here, Starting Now which brings together a wide variety of styles from various musicals, some never even produced, to create one coherent show.
The songs included in this revue may be disparate, but they all centre around the theme of love. That doesn’t necessarily mean every one is a schmaltzy romantic tune, indeed Starting Here, Starting Now rather splits itself down the middle, the first half exploring the fun side of relationships, while the second looks at characters who have been less lucky in the pursuit of romantic happiness.
Gerald Armin directs an impressive cast, and does so with flair. There’s not a huge amount you can do with three people on an empty stage, yet our cast is constantly moving, giving each number the required fluidity and audience engagement to land the message.
Starting Here, Starting Now’s cast is comprised of West End favourites, Nikki Bentley, Gina Murray and Noel Sullivan. The trio perform the selection of solos and duets with ease, but it’s when they come together such as with ‘Pleased With Myself’ or ‘Travel’ that the magic really begins to happen. Sullivan’s wonderfully expressive performance is lovely to watch, particularly with ‘I Hear Bells’.
The revue mixes comedy numbers with soulful ballads, Gina Murray’s delightful rendition of ‘Crossword Puzzle’ is followed by a belter of a performance from Nikki Bentley with ‘Autumn’. Musical Director, Inga Davis-Rutter, who’s fingers danced across the keyboard at the speed of light, providing the only musical accompaniment, also deserves special mention.
Waterloo East’s reopening couldn’t be in safer hands. Maltby and Shire’s enduring revue about love still feels fresh and inviting. Bentley, Murray and Sullivan go the extra mile, teasing out the individual traits of each of the characters they play, and Starting Here, Starting Now is all the richer for it. This charming musical revue is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.
Starting Here, Starting Now is at Waterloo East Theatre until 18th July 2021.more information and tickets can be found here.