Hackney Picturehouse has a varied programme of arts events on its top floor Hackney Attic. The programme features storytelling, poetry and music nights put on by a huge variety of performers.
On Tuesday 4th August Gemma Rogers and her band performed a preview of their mini musical London Town which they will be taking to Wilderness on 6th-9th August. Directed by Eleanor Barr this is a sardonic and witty take on the genre of musical theatre as applied to the story of an ordinary girl (Belle) who moves to London from Eastbourne when she breaks up with her boyfriend. Using a clever fusion of spoken word, music (base, keys and ukulele) and comedy Gemma presents a delightful story that finds the magical in the everyday.
The show is barely an hour long which is a shame as the verse is so tightly crafted, pertinent and snappy it could be developed a lot further. Gemma drawls out the songs in a smokey voice, she has an effortlessly cool persona but is also warm building an easy rapport with the audience. Typical of spoken word Gemma tells the story rather than acting it out but the characters come to life through her sparky conversational style and knack for creating different voices.
The music is impressively varied from the gently sad opening number that sets the scene of the characters heartbreak to the typically cheesy musical theatre set piece ‘London Town’ which sees Belle leave Eastbourne behind her for the bright lights. Gemma don’s a Dick Whittington style sack for this piece and has fun ironically playing with the traditional format of these songs from talking above the music; ‘ah look at all the pigeons’ to a huge, soaring, life-affirming crescendo at the end.
London Town-The Musical is a bite sized piece that is contemporary and cleverly morphs musical fantasy with gritty reality; it’s intelligent, heart-warming and a lot of fun.