The audience sang at times and hummed along on a tide of happy moments and memories at the Viennese Strauss Gala in the Theatre Royal last Saturday. Songs ended and two ladies, who were in raptures, would emote – wonderful… beautiful… what a lovely voice etc. The UK-based Theatre productions have a wonderful reputation for turning quality shows with top-class aspiring singers and musicians. The only sense of discomfort was the fridge-like conditions in the auditorium. It was a windy night and the audience had to stay wrapped up, but at least it got your feet tapping. A six-piece European Orchestral Ensemble added much to the joy of the evening and gave a touch of comedy in songs like Champagne.
A beautiful setting of chase-longue and pillars with a star cloth, created a pink glow that sustained the appreciative audience in an evening of intimate memories when, Men are men and women are weak (Lip To Lip Duet) or that Waltz sentiment of swirling around when – All the world’s in love with love. This was an early Valentine’s treat and it was – In heaven as never before as the mood basked in hope – Bring back the glory that once was mine. The Royal was built for evenings like this.
Fine and elegant costumes added to the pleasure that was as syrupy as you could wish or as flirtatious as pink champagne. A glorious selection of Lehar tunes made the first half memorable as a Merry Widow made merry and bright, happy and old-fashionedly gay. An interpolated A Little Cup Of Tea from Land Of Smiles was as flirtatious as a knowing wink of promises.
After the interval, a Die Fledermaus selection was high-heaven, especially Anthea Kempson in the Laughing Song; Lyuba Nakova Trayanova, the Bulgarian soprano was sultry in Czardas and the four singers were wonderful in Brother Mine. The Russian singer Iliyan Stoilov Nedev was magical with his accented voice for My Heart Belong To You and Francis Church just wowed the audience with a smashing Girls Are meant To Love And Kiss and the evening ended in a Blue Danube medley, as the audience took home wonderful memories into a wintry night.