By Sarah Solomon
Seated amongst the outdoor performance space in the beautiful surrounds of Brockwell Hall on a hot Saturday evening, the scene was set for an entertaining night ahead. Atop the slopes of Brockwell Park, Brixton based theatre collective, Sixteenfeet Production’s musical cabaret show Catch me a Song, was about to be presented on a picturesque stage, complete with plants stage front and arching trees making for a natural backdrop.
The intimate setting and relaxed atmosphere was complemented by the sound of popping champagne as the audience tucked into their picnics, and a makeshift bar was at the ready for top ups.
With everything in place the show opened with a joyous group medley of classics Pure Imagination and Candyman, from the 1971 musical, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. On stage were singers Paul Hazel, Jennifer Rhodes, Amanda Posener and Hamilton Sargent. The quartet with West End credits and formal training at top institutions including Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Mountview Theatre School, captivated the audience with their infectious energy.
The show consisted of solos, duets and group renditions covering an array of musicals and genres including jazz, swing, rhythm and blues, soul and pop. Paul Hazel took the role of MC, comically rousing the crowd and encouraging audience participation and interaction throughout.
Making reference to the by gone eras was a key feature in Catch me a Song. Amongst the first songs performed was A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square, a nod to the iconic Dame Vera Lynn, sang by Paul Hazel.
The greats of American musical theatre, Rodgers and Hammerstein were represented in the show, with a rendition of the Broadway musical Carousel’s – If I loved you performed beautifully by Jennifer Rhodes and Hamilton Sargent.
The first half of Catch me a Song also featured a memorable duet by Amanda Posener and Paul Hazel. The recital of 1920s Jazz standard Honeysuckle Rose (composed by Fats Waller, lyrics by Andy Razaf) demonstrated a great partnership between Hazel and Posener, with the pair mingling with the audience, and making jokes between verses, before heading back to the stage in perfect timing with the music, making for some amusing results.
The Jackie Wilson song (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher closed the first half of the show, with the audience singing along with the quartet to the 1967 rhythm and blues classic.
As the sun began to set, the last half of the show provided some equally humorous, entertaining and inspiring moments, including singing in French by Jennifer Rhodes and an excellent tribute to the infamous Rat Pack members, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior in the form of Me and My Shadow, sang by Paul Hazel and Hamilton Sargent. Amanda Posener brought the show back up to date with the song Random Black Girl – an account of the experiences sometimes faced by black female performers in the casting process for musical shows.
The evening was brought to a close with a group performance of Only for Now from the musical Avenue Q, followed by an encore in the form of crowd pleaser, Ike and Tina Turner’s River Deep Mountain High.
Directed by Paul Hazel and musical direction provided by Matthew Ramplin, Catch Me a Song is great entertainment, with the added bonus of being able to watch talented West End singers in the outdoors.
Catch me a Song can also be seen at Rookery Gardens and the Mark Bennett Library in Streatham this weekend. Visit http://www.sixteenfeet.co.uk/ for further details.