Review of Treason the Musical at Cadogan Hall

Following on from the release of five tracks from Treason – The Musical comes the concert version of the brand-new musical about the gunpowder plot of 1605 filmed at Cadogan Hall during the lockdown but with Covid protocols in place.

The work with music and lyrics by Rickie Allan and book by Allan and Keiran Lynn, tells the tale of the leaders of the plot to blow up the House of Lords and assassinate King James I. Led by Robert Catesby along with others including Guy Fawkes (who surprisingly doesn’t appear in the musical although he is mentioned), the failed plot is of course still commemorated over four hundred years later every November 5th.

Treason The Musical In Concert - Cadogan Hall - Photos by Gavin Nugent
Treason The Musical In Concert – Cadogan Hall – Photos by Gavin Nugent

This version of Treason – The Musical is a work in progress coming in at under an hour in length so this is a good chance for the creative team including director Hannah Chissick to show the online viewers what to expect. It’s a big subject and there are lots of broad “11 o’clock” ballads – everything is very worthy. The singing is exceptional with the standouts being Oliver Thompsett as Catesby, Cedric Neal as the Earl of Northumberland and Lucie Jones as Martha Percy. There’s also a one-song cameo from Daniel Boys as a very camp King James that has echoes of “I’ll Be Back” sung by King George III in Hamilton. As this is an uncomplete work, there’s a Narrator (Debris Stevenson) who tells the story and fills in the gaps using rhyming couplets which don’t always work and sometimes jar a little. Because of this device, it’s difficult to tell if the finished version is going to be sung through or if there will be any dialogue.

The main problem with Treason – The Musical, is that it’s a bit old fashioned – more Les Mis than Hamilton. Although set over a hundred years before Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop/rap masterpiece, there are historical similarities and although there’s a little rap in the narration, the overall feel and the number of big ballads, makes it a little clunky and presently missing some lightness of touch.

However, it’s hard to judge this as a finished product because it isn’t. There’s some wonderful singing from the cast of ten and the playing of the musicians led by Musical Director Nick Pinchbeck is exemplary. The staging is quite static as it has to be as a concert performance but also with social distancing in place so there’s not a lot to see and it’s not a lot different to listening to the soundtrack without any visuals.

It will be interesting to see how the piece develops going forward – let’s just hope that the fully staged version has a bit more light and shade to give it an extra dimension – and maybe one or two fireworks.

3 stars

Review by Alan Fitter

The world premiere of this exclusive musical concert is performed by a selection of some of the West End’s most gifted performers including Lucie Jones (Legally Blonde, Waitress), Oliver Tompsett (& Juliet, Kinky Boots), Daniel Boys (Falsettos, Nativity Rocks!), Waylon Jacobs (Hamilton, Memphis), Bradley Jaden (Les Misérables, Wicked), Emmanuel Kojo (Oklahoma!, Show Boat), Rebecca LaChance (School of Rock, Beautiful), Cedric Neal (Chess, Motown), Sharon Rose (Hamilton, Caroline Or Change), and alongside the multi-talented poet, writer and performer, Debris Stevenson (Poet in da Corner), as the show’s narrator.* *Please note that the Treason in concert cast differs from the original track recording cast.

The songs from Treason are performed and filmed live in concert at London’s prestigious Cadogan Hall.

Remember, remember the 5th of November,
for its gunpowder, treason, and plot
We’re here to tell you the rest of the tale,
the one that history books forgot
Guy Fawkes remains an anonymous figure,
we have more to bring to the table
It’s time to meet the rest of the plotters,
in our fiery musical fable

With a fusion of original folk and pop songs, this wonderful new musical tells one of the most intriguing tales in England’s history, and features a stunning score and lyrics by Ricky Allan, and book by Kieran Lynn and Ricky Allan. The musical’s world premiere and online concert will be directed by Hannah Chissick, with musical supervision by Nick Pinchbeck and orchestration and additional arrangements by Matthew Malone.

The first five exclusive tracks released from the musical are: Take Things Into Our Own Hands featuring Hadley Fraser, Waylon Jacobs, Emmanuel Kojo and Oliver Savile; The Day Elizabeth Died featuring Kelly Agbowu, Hadley Fraser, Waylon Jacobs, Emmanuel Kojo, Rebecca LaChance, Christina Modestou and Oliver Savile; Blind Faith featuring Rosalie Craig and Oliver Savile; The Promise featuring Daniel Boys and Oliver Savile; and The Cold, Hard, Ground featuring Hadley Fraser.

Follow Treason the Musical on all social media platforms @treasonmusical and treasonthemusical.com to be the first to hear the latest news and information.

LISTINGS
Music & Lyrics by Ricky Allan
Book by Ricky Allan & Kieran Lynn
Directed by Hannah Chissick
Musical Supervision by Nick Pinchbeck
Orchestration & Additional Arrangements by Matthew Malone
Produced by Stephen McGill & Ricky Allan for Fiery Fable Productions, Square Peg
Productions & Katy Galloway Productions, alongside Associate Producer Piers Cottee-Jones
Entertainment
Website: treasonthemusical.com

TREASON THE MUSICAL IN CONCERT
Filmed live from Cadogan Hall, London
Concert Streaming Dates:
Friday 12 March – 7.30pm
Saturday 13 March – 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Sunday 14 March – 2.30pm and 6.00pm