When I was invited down to Songs From The Playground Volume ll, I knew that if it was anything like Volume 1, I would be in for a great night.
The show was performed at The Union Theatre this time around (moving from the Phoenix Artist Club) and you could instantly tell that this was more than a ‘stand up and sing’ event. As we walked into the theatre, there were over half a dozen performers on stage (as if on a packed train) which instantly intrigued me.
The show got underway and we started to witness an eclectic mixture of different songs, musicals and script work. Dan Looney & Bronte Barbe’s performance of ‘Kiss Me’ from The Vow was so beautifully written and the performances were equally as brilliant.
The first act continued with songs from several more of John’s musicals including Hidden Talents, The Holliday and some stand alone numbers. During the interval we were saying that it would of been nice to hear more from John in the first half and explain a bit about each musical.
The second half made us eat our words as after the first section from his musical ‘The Homefront’ John stood up from the piano and explained what that show, in particular, meant to him. We learnt that John spent time on the streets, living rough and he was inspired by the characters he met and wanted to make sure their voices were heard.
The Homefront is a musical that I could easily see at The Royal Court or the Nationals Shed space. It is beautifully written and puts you in a trance where you just don’t want the piece to end (additional direction from Pete Gallagher was introduced for this).
The second half continued with clips from his original music for The Notebook and for Home Alone (which he is co writing with Dan Looney). The choreography by Aine Curran throughout made for interesting viewing with the tap number a definite highlight of the show.
Writer John Kristian is going to go far with his writing career and I have no doubt that we will see his work on a much larger scale very soon.
Reviewed by Jamie Chapman Dixon