Clive Nolan's 'Alchemy' concluded the 'Evening at the Theatre' on February 22nd, 2013. To cut a long story short, I must say that it was worth waiting years to witness such a story, full of drama and romance, performed live on stage at Teatr Slaski. Once more Clive managed to capture and convey the mood of the Victorian era in his musical in a masterly manner and the singers performed their songs with mindblowing perfection. There was no exception! Even the eleventh hour replacement of Paul Menel's character was a success: Christopher Longman, in his black coat and a bowler hat, provided us with a sublime performance.
For me, one of the biggest highlights of the evening was Andy Sears performing the role of the baddie, Lord Jagman, and the soprano Victoria Bolley as Eva Bonaduce. Our own Agnieszka Swita, cast as Amelia, was very convincing too. What an incredibly talented girl she is! It is a real joy for us Poles to see a Polish singer in the company of some of the most beloved and acclaimed prog artists. Next to Agnieszka, Amelia's romantic interest, William Gardelle was played by a truly unique vocalist David Clifford. A real star, however, turned out to be David's daughter, Soheila, cast in an episodic role of Jessamine. Not only does the 15-year-old Soheila look good, she is also blessed with a voice of an angel! It was equally nice to behold a well-known Landmarq duet, Tracy Hitchings and Damian Wilson, even though they appeared on stage together only for a curtain call.
Paul Manzi (Arena), in the role of a naïve mercenary, proved to be a very good actor too. Within just a few-minute-long performance he succeeded in mesmerising the audience with his incredible energy. After the show I learnt that his too-tight boots was the only reason that had stooped him from performing a Cossack dance on stage... :-) The big finale belonged to a duet: Anzeray (performed by a silver-haired Chris Lewis) and the begging-for-mercy Jagman (Andy Sears). The show was a blast! And no wonder that the pre-released (especially for the occasion) CD version of ‘Alchemy’ got sold out that very evening.
The master of the “alchemistic ceremony” deserves my special attention. And for this reason I have left the name of Clive Nolan, a composer, writer and actor performing the role of Professor King, for the very end. We know this artist well from his widely acclaimed progressive bands like Arena, Pendragon and Strangers on a Train. Before 'Alchemy', Nolan's now six-year-old rock opera ‘She’ seemed to have been a one-off “occurrence” in his musical career. However, the grandeur, complexity, the overall quality of the music as well as the original story and lyrics in ‘Alchemy’ proved Nolan’s interest in the musical genre to be genuine. Clive was brought up on such albums thanks to his parents, who, back in his childhood years, used to listen to musicals frequently. Now they can be proud of their son! For he has composed and written a delightful rock musical exceeding the level of any contemporary piece known in this genre. No doubt it will be a real treat to see the full theatrical version of ‘Alchemy’ this autumn in Cheltenham, UK (September 5th – 7th 2013), where the vocalists will not only sing but also act accompanied by a live chorus and and musicians.
One word to sum up? A success! A success in every aspect - from organisational to artistic level of the performance as well as the quality of the masterpiece itself. I am convinced that the date of February 22nd, 2013 will be fondly remembered by many of the audience present at Teatr Slaski that evening.
Review by Artur Chachlowski (MLWZ)
Translation Magdalena Grabias