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Over The Rainbow

 

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Over The Rainbow

Review from Morcambe Today

As we walked into the Grand Theatre for the performance of 'Over the Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story', a badly-cut computer picture of Eva was projected onto a backdrop and it's safe to say our expectations weren't high. Luckily the image didn't reflect the standard of that night's performance, which was an emotional roller-coaster from start to finish. Writer Brian Langtry has not only managed to write a successful documentation of the life of a world famous songstress, but also to tell the unknown story of a time full of love, struggle and acceptance on a deeply personal level.

The set was minimal and highly effective with images and film projected onto the backdrop to indicate changes in time and location.

The simplicity of the stage meant our attention was focused on the stunning performances.

Faye Tozer, of Steps fame, finally has a chance to show off her amazing vocal talent overlooked by the cheesy pop culture of the 90s.

She 'steps' (sorry) into the lead role of Eva Cassidy with ease and managed to convincingly portray Eva from an angst-ridden teen to a cancer-suffering 30-year-old.

Michael Cuckson takes on the role of Eva's perfectionist father and acts it well. The relationship between him and Eva is strained and he struggles to accept that his daughter is maturing and has a strong creative nature.

Thanks to the brilliant acting the topic is something that we could relate to. Reuven Gershon as love interest Chris, and Barbara Drennan as Eva's mother, handle the roles of Eva's confidantes with great sincerity and sensitivity.

Although the musical is based on mortality, there are many light-hearted moments. Audience participation came in the form of a clap-a-long and a 'Yee ha!' sing-a-long which, although cheesy, we found highly amusing.

It is safe to say that Over the Rainbow contains something for all ages. The cast of eight (musicians double up as actors) produce a moving and emotional piece.

Oh and ladies, if you get the chance to see this production we recommend waterproof mascara and a big packet of tissues, because by the time the final curtain fell we were in floods of tears and we weren't the only ones.

Faye Tozer seemed to enjoy her time in Lancaster, which included a slap-up meal at the Grand's season sponsors The Borough where she posed for photos before Wednesday's performance.

The Borough will be at the theatre again this week as they provide the catering for The Bishop's Ordination and later in the year they will be providing the meal for The Grand Masked Ball at Williamson Park, yet another fund-raiser for the Lancaster Grand.

 

Over The Rainbow

Review from the Lancashire Telegraph
Written by Caroline Dutton

At the height of her fame Faye Tozer performed to sell-out audiences at Wembley Arena with band Steps. But although her latest project sees her playing far smaller, less glamourous venues, she says she wouldn't give it up for the world. We spoke to her.

FAYE Tozer is bursting with enthusiasm for her latest role, as Eva Cassidy in Over The Rainbow, a compelling musical telling the life story of tragic singer.

"I auditioned for Eva in March and was re-called in July and ever since I found out I got the part I've been working non-stop," said Faye.

"I can't recreate her voice naturally because everyone has different vocals, so I've had to study her meticulously.

"I'm studying the way she sang, the way she adlibbed, everything.

"I've had to go through every note of every song that she did and learn it off by heart to get the sound, the feeling, the volume and the depth just right.

"I've been living and breathing Eva for the past two months. Her CDs are in my car, all over the house, I literally haven't listened to anything else.

"I must be really fun to live with at the moment!"

The show is a celebration of the life of the extraordinary singer and songwriter. It follows her life from the age of 10, growing up in a musical family, and her first professional gig aged 18 at the Wild West World theme park.

It shows her first meeting with boyfriend and mentor Chris Biondo, a rabble-rousing rendition and recording at Blues Alley with Chuck Brown and culminates in her poignant and tragic death.

Before she died, at the age of only 33, Eva Cassidy was unknown outside Washington, USA, but within two years she had been discovered by Terry Wogan, who promoted her music to the top of the album charts in the UK and now Europe, Australia and throughout the world.

"I've got big shoes to fill, I know that," said Faye of her role in the production. It's the biggest challenge I've ever had to do but it's an amazing part and I feel privileged to have been given the chance to do it.

"It's going to be a tear jerker, but it's a happy celebration of her life as well and about getting inside the person that she was."

Faye was with Steps for just over four years. In that time they had 15 Top 10 singles and produced five successful albums.

After the split she launched a short-lived solo pop career and later focused on musical theatre.

Although her glossy pop star image couldn't be further from that of Eva's, Faye is a massive enthusiast for her music.

"I'm such a huge fan. I'm determined to get it just right," she said.

"The show is one-night only in every theatre so it's a lot of travelling. For the whole six-week run I won't be able to unpack my make-up and toiletries from my suitcase, but I was so desperate to get the part that the travelling bit didn't even cross my mind.

"I really hope other die-hard Eva fans out there enjoy the show. It's for them that I've done all this work. Eva's not alive anymore so they can't go to see her in concert. The idea behind this show is that the fans can enjoy her music in a live setting."

The only thing Faye isn't so keen on is her costumes, which consist mainly of dodgy jumpers and a blonde wig.

"Eva wasn't into fashion," she explained.

"She worked in a garden centre and was a really spiritual girl. She just wasn't interested in make-up or clothes. I've learned a lot about her character. She suffered a lot from stage fright and was quite an insecure person really, even though she was so talented. She was a very interesting character."

But don't worry if you haven't heard Eva's music before. The show is also a great introduction to one of the most talented singers of our time.

"This is more than the life story of Eva Cassidy which is an absolute must-see for all Eva Cassidy fans.

"It's a show for anyone who's lost someone they love," said Faye.

 

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