“Songs for the Fallen” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival at Theater 3 (Closed on July 27, 2015)

Book by Sheridan Harbridge
Lyrics abd Musuc by Basil Hogios and Sheridan Harbridge
Directed by Shane Anthony
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

“Songs For The Fallen,” a new musical, tackles the fascinating life and passionate times of Marie Duplessis, the infamous courtesan of the upper echelon in 19th century Paris. It is being presented as part of NYMF at Theater 3. Although the subject has been depicted in various mediums including the popular film “Moulin Rouge,” this incarnation penned by Sheridan Harbridge, takes a risk in the intimate form of cabaret, immediately breaking down the fourth wall to share her secrets and trysts. The music and lyrics by Basil Hogios and Ms. Harbridge might be categorized as pop, but the extensively varied styles, for some uncanny reason are able to keep you planted in the French boudoir where Marie lived, entertained, played, suffered and eventually died. The sounds reflect a Kurt Weil for the new age. The cognoscente Mr. Hoglios plays everything including computer beats, synthesizer, drums and more, producing sultry ballads to raucous celebrations supporting every mood and situation that arises. The lyrics are glued to the character and expose all, some brash and bold, others quiet and thoughtful but all tearing off layers of emotion and tossing them aside in order to reveal past and present. The entire production is well structured and complete, deftly directed by Shane Anthony, who ensures, that as the insanely crafted production unfolds and unleashes the debauched tale it never fails to understand the focus.

The cast is nothing less than superb coaxing every morsel of entertainment out of the inspired script, attacking with a blitzkrieg of singing, dancing and morphing into several characters. Garth Holcombe and Simon Corfield are amazing as an entourage of supporting characters and undertake every task with ebullience and sincerity. Now, move over Sally Bowles, this Marie as inhabited by Ms. Harbridge, is the epitome of “divine decadence.” Her character oozes with sexual charm, emotional intelligence and vulgar values. Her vocal ability is captivating with a bold mezzo that is powerful, sensitive, seductive and beguiling. Her amazing ability to break down the fourth wall and at times walk along that keen edge, always returning to suspend belief, is mystifying, reinforcing her as an aficionado of cabaret performance. It is “Rocky Horror” meets “Hedwig”. She is brilliant!

This current production is ripe and ready for the New York theater scene and would be embraced by the audiences. It is new, fresh, entertaining and filled with exceptional talent.