A cast of five singers/actors and three musicians improve a musical live on stage. Monday nights. (27th October, 3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th November, 1st, 8th, 15th & 21st December, 5th, 12th, 19th Jan, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd Feb, 2nd Mar.
A writer is on the phone to his producer who rejects his idea for a musical – Sarah Palin: the Moose Years – so he has to come up with an alternative and double quick. Bereft of ideas, he asks the audience for help with theme, musical styles and a title. Although he batted away some of the stranger ideas – including hamsters – he took basically everything we threw at him. The result was 'Assassins of the Sun' and with bankers getting ready to jump out of the window, we went back to the formation of the first Lehman Brothers Bank supposedly in Wells Fargo in 1880.
The band, keyboard, wind instruments and guitar, launched into a wild west salon bar number and the actors bounced on stage with an even wilder look in their eyes and launched into an opening number. Miraculously, characters began to emerge and the writer quickly chose his hero, the new guy in town who was frightened of firing a gun. We soon had a love interest, a baddy and a plot so complex it would have made the writers of Dallas blush. However the main joy was how faithfully they spoofed the musical styles that had been suggested. Their Sondheim number was truly inspired and the Kander and Ebb came complete with an underwater ballet number in a bank vault – using just hats and a few scarves. From time to time, the writer would check the wilder fantasies of the characters – who all seemed to be lost members of the Lehman family – and they would fight back. This always prompted the biggest laughs of the evening and showed just how creative clashes can be. Perhaps the best moments of all the great musicals happen in the rehearsal room, but we weren't allowed to see them.
All the cast were good. However, stand out performances of the evening were Adam Meggido (who played both the heroes best friend and the fiendish Tom Lehman) and Nathan Taylor (the hero) whose body seemed as flexible as his imagination. This show had rave reviews and great word of mouth at the Edinburgh Festival this year and its easy to see why. We went out humming the impromptu hit of the evening 'Better than Gold' and I bet half the audience were planning to come back next week for a brand new show.
Reviewed by Andrew G Marshall Monday 6th October 2008