Jodie Pregner sang to me.
Tell Me on a Sunday is the fruit of the first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black. A one-woman show which first presented at the 1979 Sydmonton Festival.
Andrew Lloyd Webber became the only person to equal the record set in 1953 by Rodgers and Hammerstein with four Broadway shows running concurrently. In total, he composed 21 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass.
His other musicals include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Chris Superstar and Evita.
Don Black received two Tony Awards for best book and lyrics of a musical for his work (with Christopher Hampton) on Sunset Boulevard, which marked his third collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
They first joined forced to write the song cycle Tell Me on a Sunday which developed to form the basis of the stage show Song and Dance.
The musical has been televised, ended up as the first part of Song and Dance and has been interpreted by a wide range of performers from Marti Webb to Lulu, who each bought their own unique take to the piece.
Tell Me on a Sunday, which I saw at Curve, tells the story of Emma — played by Jodie Prenger (West End’s A Taste Of Honey, Theatre Royal’s Oliver! and Playhouse Theatre and UK Tour’s Spamalot) — an ordinary English girl from Muswell Hill, who journeys to the United States in search of love.
Her romantic misadventures begin in New York City, lead her to Hollywood, and eventually take her back to Manhattan.
The set is simplistic, low-tech, but the lighting work designed by Howard Hudson was captivating. Emma’s outfits were quite ordinary, but the rapid out-of-scene outfit changes performed by Jodie Prenger were breathtaking — although she jokingly admitted in the second act she had not always made them on time in previous performances.
In this production, Jodie Prenger brings honesty to the table. Watching and listening to her performance felt, at times, like looking in a mirror.
‘Let Me Finish’ and ‘Dreams Never Run on Time’ are cruelly relatable, and the performer’s emotional involvement in the latter song especially is what makes the character’s feelings so familiar.
As human beings, we all relate to ‘being in love with the idea of love’. Meeting somebody new, thinking they’re ‘the one’, telling your parents about it, the excitement of the honeymoon phase — only to be disappointed after a while, and repeating the cycle with somebody new.
We get to experience Emma’s series of failed relationships with all kinds of men. Her only connection with home is a series of letters she writes to her mum.
I kept thinking how daunting it must be for any performer to walk onto a stage and carry a 70-minutes show alone. But against all my expectations, Jodie Prenger walked on and showed herself to be a formidable musical theatre force.
Of course, she was not completely alone. The small musical ensemble hidden in the back of the scenery is in good shape. They delivered and accompanied Prenger as best I could imagine a band possible can.
The second act started on an unexpected when Jodie Prenger, rushing to the stage under the applause, tripped and fell over a stool that had been placed on the side of the stage. At first, I wasn’t sure whether this was scripted — but realise it most definitely wasn’t when the pianist got up to help her and she was laughing like anybody would have if they had just fallen in front of 200 people.
After joking about her stunt and asking the audience whether she could start again from the beginning, there was a quick Q&A session with the audience, where Prenger explained how she chooses people from the audience as characters of the story to help her. She proceeded to point at somebody in the audience and then myself, whom she had chosen to use as prompts to help her focus on some of the songs — which I had noticed by the very intense, eye contact, even feeling she was singing for/at me at some point.
The Q&A is followed by a wonderful rendition of Secret Love, a duet with her understudy Jodie Beth Meyer (Greenwich Theatre’s BKLYN the Musical, UK Tour’s Beyond the Barricade).
All in all, Tell Me on a Sunday makes for a wonderful way to spend an evening (not just on a Sunday!). It’s a no-gimmick, beautifully performed entertainment, and on a more personal an incredible show for someone who has never seen a musical in the flesh before.
Written by Sharon Clement.
Sharon is a digital account manager at Cross Productions in Leicester and has a master’s degree in marketing for the creative industries. She has an online blog where she writes about her life, feelings and passions. Sharon is active on social media where she posts about body positivity, women’s relationships with their bodies in society, and mental health.