Sunday 11th December 2011
You’ve got to admire someone who can keep a straight face whilst being interviewed by a muppet. Having seen Peter Polycarpou in ‘Falling Stars’, a show about lost songs from the 20s, we couldn’t miss an opportunity to see his latest one-off show ‘Songs of My Life’. Given the career he has had, he has a vast number of songs to choose from, whether in iconic hits of the Musical Theatre canon such as ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Ms Saigon’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’, or less well-known works such as ‘Imagine This’. By his own account, he never wanted to be a star, just to work, and boy has he worked! Hot on the heels of ‘Love Story’ last year, his next venture will be the West End transfer of ‘Sweeney Todd’.
True to our expectations, we were treated to an eclectic mix of numbers – even the old standards were given an unexpected twist, with ‘Master of the House’ morphing from 19th century France to a modern-day Kebab shop. Along with the songs, we had some interesting stories, perhaps the most intriguing one being that Polycarpou was once lined up to replace Brian Conley in the musical ‘Jolson’. After learning all the songs, he was informed that Conley was going to stay after all, leaving him with a lifelong love of Jolson songs and no outlet…..until now. With an impressive rendition of ‘Toot toot Tootsie goodbye’, we got a taste of what might have been.
One of the advantages of being involved in so many high-profile productions has been the friends he has made, and chief amongst the guests were Simon Bowman, delivering a show-stopping performance of Music of the Night, and Hannah Waddingham, showcasing her comic talent to perfection in the duet ‘The Song that goes like this’ from Spamalot. Polycarpou is passionate about nurturing the next generation of musical theatre stars, something that is close to our hearts, and his pleasure in sharing the stage with young performers from Mountview and Arts Educational was clearly genuine.
Polycarpou means literally ‘Fruitful’ and ‘Peter’ means ‘rock’ in Greek. How apt for a performer who has endured for so long and retained an infectious enthusiasm for the work.
On a completely different note, having recently had a go at some fringe theatres for their policy on restricted view seats, we were horrified to find, on sneaking up the row in the Upper Circle from designated restricted view seats, that we were still unable to see a large portion of the stage. And on consulting theatremonkey later that evening out of curiosity we found that had we paid for these ‘better’ seats to see Chicago, it would have cost us the princely sum of £46 each.