Tell Me on a Sunday – Musical Theatre Review

Tell Me on a Sunday is arguably one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser-known musicals. Starting development in 1979, with lyricist Don Black, Tell Me on a Sunday evolved into a one-act ‘song cycle’, following an English girl in search of love in the United States. Despite its lesser known status, its big-hitter songs are instantly recognisable - the popular ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’ and the eponymous ‘Tell Me on a Sunday’ amongst them.

The role of ‘The Girl’ is often critiqued as a flat and rather ‘empty’ female character. (Indeed, it wasn’t until the 1985 version in the U.S. with Bernadette Peters that the character was finally given a name - Emma.) A tricky beast of a musical then, and one many talented performers have tackled over the years, including Denise Van Outen and Claire Sweeney – both actors well-known for their likeable personalities. So it seems appropriate that the next performer to sing her way through a torrid, tangled love-life would be the amiable and talented Jodie Prenger. Shooting to fame as the winner of Lloyd Webber’s quest for a Nancy in his revival of Oliver, and most recently seen in the tour of Calamity Jane as the title role, Prenger is no stranger to big and bold characters.

And predictably, Prenger powers through this piece with aplomb. From the opening ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’ we can tell this is no flat presentation of the character, and it’s obvious Prenger is relishing the performance. It’s fascinating to watch her on stage on her own. During songs where she is speaking to other characters you can almost see them appear on the stage reaching out to her – particularly during the emotional ‘Let Me Finish’. Flitting from furiously in love, to crushed singleton Prenger manages to suitably flesh out the role and showcases some of Lloyd Webber’s best work well. We adore Prenger’s Emma, with all her amusing letters home, her hopeful, dreamy nature, that gives way to quiet fury. We are in safe hands with Prenger here.

The set, designed by David Woodhead, is classy and functional, although somewhat dwarfed by the large Waterside stage. Featuring a classic New York skyline that glitters with light and colour for mood, and a simple ‘apartment’ with sideboard, lamps and chairs, Paul Foster’s direction utilises the space well. It’s a real delight to watch Prenger drape herself about the set and Foster ensures we are never left waiting too long between scenes. Woodhead’s costume are also a treat – all flowing Eighties gowns, denim jackets and floppy hats.

Of course, the one problem with a one-act performance, is what to do after the interval! In the past, other productions have paired it with dance performances. Here, Prenger offers a quick Question and Answer session, and a few songs to round off the evening. It is here we get to enjoy the Jodie we all know and love – all wry grins, witty quips about gin, and gorgeous vocals. We could almost do with one or two more songs, but after watching the emotionally exhausting roller-coaster of Tell Me on a Sunday it’s unsurprising Prenger leaves us wanting more.

In short, this production is an enjoyable journey through some great musical numbers in the hands of a consummate professional. If you love musicals and have never seen Tell Me on a Sunday, this is a pleasant and well-constructed performance, and very much worth a watch whilst it’s on tour.

Tell Me On a Sunday
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
31st March, 2016

Then touring on to:

Fri 1 Apr
Rhyl, Pavilion Theatre

Sat 2 Apr
New Brighton, Floral Pavilion

Sun 3 Apr
Buxton Opera House

Tue 5 – Sat 9 Apr
Cardiff, New Theatre

Sun 10 Apr
Brighton, Theatre Royal

Tue 12 Apr
Broxbourne, The Spotlight

Wed 13 Apr
Lowestoft, Marina Theatre

Thu 14 Apr
Basingstoke, Anvil Arts

Fri 15 April
Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre

Sat 16 April
Dunstable, Grove Theatre

Sun 17 Apr
Southampton, Mayflower Theatre

Mon 18 Apr
London, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wed 20 Apr
Nottingham, Royal Concert Hall

Thu 21 Apr
Stevenage, Gordon Craig Theatre

Fri 22 Apr
York, Grand Opera House

Sat 23 Apr
Southport, Theatre & Convention Centre

Sun 24 Apr
Birmingham, New Alexandra Theatre

Mon 25 Apr
Manchester Palace Theatre

Wed 27 Apr
Leeds, Grand Theatre

Thu 28 Apr
Oxford, New Theatre

Fri 29 Apr
Scarborough, The Spa

Sun 1 – Tue 3 May
Dublin Bord Gais

Thu 5 May
Darlington, Civic Theatre

Fri 6 May
Wakefield, Theatre Royal

Sat 7 May
Durham, Gala Theatre

Sun 8 May
Carlisle, The Sands Centre

Mon 9 May
Edinburgh Playhouse

Sun 15 May
Bristol, Hippodrome

Mon 16 May
Epsom Playhouse

Tue 17 May
Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Wed 18 May
Weston Super Mare Playhouse

Thu 19 May
Ipswich, Regent Theatre

Fri 20 May
Northampton Royal & Derngate

Sat 21 May
High Wycombe Swan

Mon 23 May
Liverpool, Empire Theatre

Tue 24 May
Woking, New Victoria Theatre

Wed 25 May
Swansea, Grand Theatre

Thu 26 & Fri 27 May
Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn

Sat 28 May
Preston, Guild Hall

Mon 30 May
Dundee, Caird Hall

Tue 31 May
Kirkcaldy, Adam Smith Theatre

Wed 1 June
Leicester, De Monfort Hall

Thu 2 Jun
Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre

Sat 4 Jun
Redditch Palace

Sun 5 Jun
Plymouth, Theatre Royal

Mon 6 Jun
Yeovil, Octagon Theatre

Tue 7 June
Peterborough Key Theatre

Wed 8 Jun
Bromley, Churchill Theatre



Emma – Jodie Prenger


Composer – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyricist – Don Black

Director – Paul Foster

Musical Supervisor – Catherine Jayes

Set and Costume Designer – David Woodhead

Lighting Designer – Howard Hudson

Sound Designer – Tom Marshall

Movement Director – Matt Flint

Orchestral Manager – Gary Hind

Producers – Jamie Wilson, Gavin Kalin Productions, Paul Elliott, The Watermill Theatre

© Carly Halse - Reviewed on Thursday 31st March, 2016.

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