Review: Maria Friedman Re-arranged (Menier Chocolate Factory)

Originally posted on 21st March

Maria Friedman

I went to see Maria Friedman: Re-arranged at the Menier Chocolate Factory last night to start the Bank Holiday weekend.

Despite being only the 2nd night of a 6-week run, the Chocolate Factory was still completely packed out, reminding me just how popular Maria Friedman is in London. On this evidence, the theatre has yet another commercial hit on its hands.

But what about the show itself?

I enjoyed the show, but ended up coming away slightly unsatisfied. Whilst there were sensational moments (more of that later), I was slightly underwhelmed by some of the repertoire chosen. This was partly down to the fact that many of the songs were new to me, and without a songlist or programme, I still don’t know what they were!

My 3 highlights were (not entirely surprisingly) all from musicals by the incomparable Stephen Sondheim:

I was fortunate enough to see Maria playing the part of Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd at the Royal Festival Hall recently (opposite Bryn Terfel), and she was born to play that part. In fact, I wish there had been more comic numbers like this during the show, as there were a few too many slow ones for my liking.

It didn’t help that Maria appeared to be under the weather, which meant that her voice was some way from its best, especially at the bottom end of her register, which particularly affected the quieter numbers. Despite this, there were none of the excuses that I would have expected of a more diva-ish performer.

Other numbers I enjoyed included:

  • ‘Short people’, originally by Randy Newman
  • A jazzy instrumental version of ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ (mixed with the bassline from The Pink Panther theme)
  • A new number called ‘Le Trombone’ written by Michel Legrand especially for this show 
  • ‘Dayton Ohio in 1903’, also by Randy Newman

Overall, I was really pleased we went to see the show, and thought it was a good night out. A little more talking (at least the names of songs would be nice), and a few more fast numbers would still help. As Maria Friedman herself said last night though, it’s rare in London to see musical cabaret on this scale, with an 11-piece live band in situ and a residence lasting 6 full weeks. Take your chance while you can – the show itself might not be worth a standing ovation, but Maria Friedman is still a fabulous performer.


Maria Friedman: Re-arranged, on at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 4th May

Tickets cost £20, and bookings should be made via the theatre’s website here


1 Response to “Review: Maria Friedman Re-arranged (Menier Chocolate Factory)”

  1. 1 The Friday musical round-up: 28th March « Coloured Lights Trackback on March 28, 2008 at 7:52 pm

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