Legacy: Maria Friedman and Friends review – Musical wonderland

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A cabaret stripped of theatrical trappings, it feels like sitting in Friedman’s front room while she tries out a few numbers with a trio of impeccable musicians, a few friends and some music students.

The pan-generational aspect is one of the most attractive aspects of the evening, as Indonesian Royal Academy Of Music student Desmonda Cathabel joins untrained 19-year-old Alfie Friedman – “My son,” says Mum coyly, after he delivers the complex acting/singing performance of Franklin Shepard, Inc from the musical Merrily We Roll Along.

Veteran performers Ian McLarnon and Matthew White do the heavy lifting but it is Friedman’s show and her wonderful, ringing, wide-ranging voice that does justice to Broadway Baby, Losing My Mind and many others.

The collective swell of four voices augmented by The Royal Academy of Music Choir delivers a spine-tingling wall of sound and Friedman’s anecdotes which range from personal relationships to reflections on her career are intriguing, hilarious, and sometimes shocking.

The more conventional second half opens with a jazzy, swinging Legrand medley before showcasing Cathabel’s outstanding rendition of Sondheim’s The Miller’s Son. Friedman’s only miscalculation is a brassy version of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now whose crash bang wallop approach all but destroys the delicate poise of the song.

David Babani’s discreet direction allows for a beautifully timed shock moment leading into Sweeney Todd’s A Little Priest but otherwise leaves Friedman and her friends to do what they do best.

High calibre entertainment.

Menier Chocolate Factory, London, until April 17. Tickets: 020 7378 1713



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