David Benedict on theatre

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The Independent Online
"What was my crime?" asked a faux naif Michael White in the Evening Standard last week. "To put on a fun musical that doesn't have a plot, has lots of beautiful girls and a great soundtrack and which threw the theatre critics who are steeped in the tradition of Rodgers and Hammerstein." Come, come. I can hear the sound of eyelids fluttering from here. The reason for the less than fulsome praise of the meretricious Voyeurz was hardly its lack of closely plotted uplift, gingham or curtain costumes and other staples from Oklahoma or The Sound of Music.

But beneath his "poor misunderstood me" posturing, perhaps Mr White has a point. "It's just a musical" is the subtext to many a critical sneer as if Oh, Kay!, West Side Story, Company and Starlight Express were all pursuing the same goals. Spectacle, social criticism or simple-minded entertainment, the musical has consistently reinvented itself, donning guises as often as so-called "legit" theatre.

Kiss the Sky is the latest attempt to reposition the form. Given that it comes from Jim Cartwright, who wrote The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which also used popular song in unexpected ways, it's hardly surprising. The show marks the arrival of Mike Bradwell as artistic director of the Bush, and is set in the psychedelic late Sixties, an era he is old enough to remember. His cast get to sing everything from Jimi Hendrix to the Mamas and the Papas via Pink Floyd, which should prove a doddle for Caron Pascoe (below) who gives versatility a good name. Not content with playing three sisters in Carl Miller's The Last Enemy, she has just finished singing up a storm as Patsy Cline, kd lang and Dusty Springfield in Only the Lonely. This time she's playing sax, singing Janis Joplin and playing a committed activist and an ex-typist from Lewisham. Actors... I don't know... such a lazy bunch...

'Kiss the Sky', Shepherd's Bush Empire, London W12 (0181-740 7474) from Mon

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