It doesn't seem that long ago to me, but in fact it's 21 years since my agent Mandy and I went to see a London revival of the musical Promises, Promises! at the fascinating Bridewell theatre. I knew the soundtrack very well, but was intrigued finally to see the show in performance, and really enjoyed it. And the outcome was a scene in The Devil in Disguise, with the theatre transferred to Liverpool and given a fresh guise. Suffice to say that in the book, Harry Devlin loved the show as much as I did.
This week I went back to London to watch another musical, Some Lovers, at the Other Palace (so named because it's very close to Buckingham Palace - great location and a very appealing venue). The show was on a very short run, as part of a festival of new music. And I found it irresistible because it's the first musical Burt Bacharach has written since 1968, when Promises, Promises! was a big hit on Broadway and in the West End. Promises, Promises! had lyrics by the great Hal David, and a book by the very witty Neil Simon. I once went to a concert at the Royal Albert Hall where Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice explained how much they were influenced by that show. I don't suppose Some Lovers will prove quite as influential, but you never know.
What I do know is that I had a great time. The venue was very intimate, and on the front row, we were within arm's reach of the performers. The four cast members play two people. The book adapts O. Henry's story "The Gift of the Magi", and presents a couple when their relationship begins and then, twenty years later, after it has fallen apart. Yes, they are older - but are they any wiser?
The lyrics and book are by Steven Sater, best known for Spring Awakening. He was in the bar at the start of the show and I was glad of the chance to have a brief chat with him/.I thought the four performers did a good job, and I enjoyed listening to so many new songs by the great man, who is still writing terrific music. Some of the songs have already been recorded or tried out in live performance. For example, here is Rumer singing Some Lovers, and Karima singing Just Walk Away. The Italian version of Every Other Hour has already been a success for Karima and Mario Biondi. Among other excellent tracks, I'd single out the terrific Welcome to My World, which was the highlight for me of a very enjoyable night. Will Some Lovers find its way into another mystery novel one day? Don't bet against it!