Music Theatre

King of the World: A Tribute to the Music of Jason Robert Brown review

In a synergistic meeting of talent and content, singing actors Laura Fitzpatrick and Josh Piterman come together to divert with their devotion to Broadway tunesmith Jason Robert Brown.

Josh Piterman, Laura Fitzpatrick, King of the World

Having shared the stage as (two pairs of) of mother and son in last year’s Children of Eden, Fitzpatrick and Piterman prove more than well matched as contemporary partners presenting a smattering of delicious samples from the JRB catalogue.

The frisky, tongue-in-cheek tone of the lighthearted opening sequence puts the audience in a relaxed mood to bond with the singers in preparation for the more dramatic material to come. Parade’s mock-vaudeville duet “The Picture Show” proves an upbeat, perky number when taken out of context of the dark shadings of its original setting. The pair engage in some good natured banter as they sort out the type of revue this will be before letting the quality of the music speak for itself.

Director James Cutler has put together a smooth one-hour program, with a selection of songs that basically represent all of Brown’s pre-existing works. Cutler has ably assisted each performer to connect with the songs and characters so as to conjure up the emotional stakes required.

Dialogue, by Cutler, Piterman and Fitzpatrick, is wisely kept to a minimum, with introductions only used when there is a clear point to make. Piterman sets up an interesting comparison of a pair of songs (one cut, one added) from The Last Five Years, and Fitzpatrick adds a thoughtful angle to Brown’s female characters in setting up “Mr Hopalong Heartbreak” from 2003 Broadway flop Urban Cowboy.

Laura Fitzpatrick, Josh Piterman, King of the World

Piterman’s trademark cheeky sparkle is kept in check in a series of touching, heartfelt ballads, a highlight being “Someone To Fall Back On.” Fitzpatrick yet again balances her endearingly vulnerable fragility with her powerhouse voice.

Music director Cameron Thomas supports the pair with his lovely light touch on the grand piano. The range of tunes and styles are nicely blended to create a cohesive performance.

Jason Robert Brown fans will enjoy the chance to enjoy these polished gems all over again, while newcomers will have no difficulty accessing the beauty and meaning of the songs on display.

King of the World plays again tomorrow night, Tuesday 4 March 2014, at Chapel off Chapel.

Photos: Sean Higgins

This review published on Theatre People 3 March 2014.

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