|2007 Something Completely Different|
Act OneOur opening section is a medley of numbers from John Landisí classic 1980 movie Ė The Blues Brothers. Created after a series of memorable appearances on US TVís Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers featured comedians John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd alongside numerous established blues legends. The movie featured cameos from Ė amongst others Ė Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Cab Calloway. Tonight, Franklinís Think is featured, sandwiched between Shake A Tailfeather and Everybody Needs Somebody, both performed by Jake and Elwood Ė The Blues Brothers.
We then move back to the theatre, with a section featuring some classic show tunes, old and new. First up is Donít Rain On My Parade, most famously recorded by Barbra Streisand for the 1964 movie, Funny Girl. This is followed by a medley of some of the classic moments from one of the most successful musicals ever staged, Les Miserables. Originally opening in London in 1985, the facts and figures from this show are truly breathtaking: winner of over fifty major awards, it has been seen worldwide by 51 million people, having racked up 38,000 professional performances, in twenty-one different languages.
Closing this section is Thereís A Fine, Fine Line, taken from the current Broadway and West End hit, Avenue Q. A very adult homage to Sesame Street, Avenue Q tackles contemporary issues through the medium of puppetry. This song closes the first act and is sung by Kate Monster just after her boyfriend, Princeton, has decided he would prefer them to remain friends.
Our next section pays tribute to a few of the great British groups of the last forty years. Kicking off the section is Paint It Black, a UK and US number one for the Rolling Stones in 1966. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song featured a memorable sitar solo played by the late Brian Jones. The next number is Iím Not In Love, written by Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart and recorded by 10cc in 1975. The result of a recording studio experiment, the original record famously featured the voices of just the band members, layered and looped to create a ďvirtual choirĒ of two-hundred and fifty six voices. The song was the bandís second UK number one. Next up is The Universal by Britpop stalwarts, Blur. Taken from their 1995 album, The Great Escape, this song reached number five and was voted the second best Blur single ever by their own fans on a recent website poll, beaten only by Beetlebum. We couldnít feature Blur without their great Britpop rivals, Oasis, represented tonight by not their biggest, but perhaps their best known hit, Wonderwall. Written in 1995 by Noel Gallagher about his then wife, Meg Matthews, the song reached number two in the UK Ė being kept from the top spot by Robson & Jerome Ė and was the bandís only US top ten hit. The song hit number two again in late 1995, memorably covered by The Mike Flowers Pops. The last song in this section is by one of the most successful British bands of the last twenty years Ė Pet Shop Boys. The band have had thirty nine top thirty hits in the UK and tonight we perform their second number one, Itís A Sin. Originally released in 1987, the song was the best selling European single of the year. The recreation of the hitís memorable video, directed by Derek Jarman, was one of the highlights of the bandís first live tour back in 1989.
We close the first half with a quartet of songs originally performed by some of the most powerful female voices in music. First off is Itís All Coming Back To Me Now, written by Jim Steinman and originally recorded by Celine Dion in 1996. Steinman has been quoted as saying the song was based on Wuthering Heights and that he was attempting to create ĎÖthe most passionate, romantic songÖí he could. The song reached number 3 in the UK and was covered by Steinmanís usual collaborator, Meatloaf, in 2006 on the album Bat Out Of Hell 3. Released as a duet with Marion Raven, the song reached number six in the UK charts. You Donít Have To Say You Love Me was released by Dusty Springfield in 1966 and was her only UK number one. The song is a cover version of an Italian song called Io che non vivo written by Pino Donaggio and Vito Pallavicini, with English lyrics by Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell. Our next number is the 1985 meeting of Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, with the feminist anthem, Sisters Are Doiní It For Themselves. The song reached number nine in the UK and was a massive dance hit in the US, reaching number ten in the dance charts. We close our first half with The Pretendersí 1994 hit Iíll Stand By You.The original was a number 10 hit, but is probably now better known for the Girls Aloud cover version which hit number one in 2004, with all proceeds donated to the BBCís Children In Need.
Our second half starts with a selection of material paying tribute to the most influential comedy team of all time Ė Monty Pythonís Flying Circus. John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin were already well know within the TV industry before BBC head of comedy, Barry Took, invited them to collaborate on a new series in 1969. There were four series of the TV show and a compilation movie And Now for Something Completely Different hit the cinemas in 1971. This led to further feature films Monty Python And The Holy Grail, The Life Of Brian and The Meaning Of Life. Most recently, Eric Idle has adapted the Holy Grail into the international stage hit Spamalot.
We introduce the section with the famous Monty Python theme, The Liberty Bell, written in 1893 by John Phillip Sousa. Next up is The Lumberjack Song, co-written by Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Fred Tomlinson. A live favourite, even George Harrison joined the Pythons on stage at one point! We continue with two numbers from Spamalot. The Song That Goes Like This is a romantic duet deliberately written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez in a Lloyd-Webber style. The second piece from Spamalot - Knights Of The Round Table - was featured in the original 1975 movie as a Hollywood pastiche, but has become an even bigger production number in the show. The next song is The Brian Song, theme to the 1979 movie The Life Of Brian. Performed in the film by Sonia Jones in a Shirley Bassey style, the song tells the unremarkable story of Brianís life prior to the film. We close the section with Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, written by Eric Idle as the finale of The Life Of Brian, but also featured in Spamalot. Released as a single in 1991, it reached number three in the UK. Although controversial on release, The Life of Brian was recently voted the funniest film of all time.
Our next section pays tribute to one of the greatest British writers of all time, Lionel Bart. Bart was born in London in 1930 and by the age of six was being acclaimed as a musical genius. He never actually learned to read or write music, but became one of the most famous faces in the UK in the 1960s.
He composed a string of hits in the late 50s for the likes of Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard, represented tonight by Richardís Liviní Doll Ė a number one hit in both 1959 and 1986. Bart than turned his attentions to the theatre and penned Lock Up You Daughters and Fings Ainít Wot They Used Tíbe, before hitting gold with Oliver! in 1960. Tonight we perform two numbers from that hit show, firstly I Shall Scream, performed in Oliver! by Mr Bumble and The Widow Corney, it is an excellent example of Bartís intelligent word play. We also include the boisterous Itís A Fine Life, a duet for Nancy and Bet. Bart followed Oliver! with the semi-autobiographical Blitz, represented tonight by the ballad, Far Away. Around about the same time, Bart co-wrote the theme tune to Sean Conneryís 1963 James Bond film, From Russia With Love. Recorded by Matt Monro, the song rose to number twenty. Unfortunately, this proved to be the high water mark of Bartís career and following a string of late 1960s flops, he was declared bankrupt in 1972 having sold the rights to all of his shows. He continued to write, but battled depression and alcoholism and his only later success was Happy Endings, a 1989 advertising jingle for Abbey National. Cameron MacIntosh revived Oliver! at the London palladium in 1991 and gifted a share of the royalties back to Bart. Lionel Bart died in 1999 following a long battle with cancer.
Our next section pays tribute to one of the great comebacks of the last few years Ė Take That. The band was formed in 1990 by manager Nigel Martin Smith - Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen & Robbie Williams all successfully auditioned for the band and went on to dominate the charts until their split in 1996, selling over 19 million records and scoring eight number ones. Four of the original five members reformed in 2006 and have subsequently released two number one singles and a number one album. Tonight we perform a medley of six of their best-known number ones, old and new.
Our finale features two numbers which both express emotions that sum up why we are here this evening. Firstly is John Lennonís Imagine, the timeless classic which only became number one following Lennonís senseless murder, the lyrics taking on a very different poignancy. Our final song is Thatís What Friends Are For, written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager for the 1982 movie Night Shift. It was originally recorded by Rod Stewart, but is better known as a 1985 cover version by Dionne and Friends. Recorded by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder and Elton John, it raised over $2 million for AIDS Research.