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‘A richly rewarding experience’: FALLING STARS – Union Theatre (Online review)

Written and conceived by Peter PolycarpouFalling Stars is a charming and fascinating exploration of composers, collaborators and publishers of the 1920s.

Running at just an hour, Peter Polycarpou and Sally Anne Triplett whisk audiences back to the 1920s for a charmingly nostalgic look at some of the composers and collaborators who created music during this time.

The story sees the discovery of a lost songbook in a hidden corner of an antique shop on East Finchley High Road, which then builds into a gorgeous song cycle featuring the work of composers such as Charlie Chaplin, Irving Berlin, Buddy DeSylva, Ray Henderson, Vincent Youmans, Carl Schraubstader, Arthur Freed and Meredith Willson.

While many of the names will be less familiar to a modern day audience, Falling Stars is still a fascinating exploration of work that brings them out of the shadows and into the spotlight. While there are some familiar songs including Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Smile’ and ‘What’ll I Do’ by Irving Berlin, some of the highlights are discovering songs such as a charmingly playful rendition of the novelty song ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas’ by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn or a heartfelt rendition of ‘Roses of Picardy’ with lyrics by Frederick Weatherly and music by Haydn Wood.

This two handed show feels wonderfully intimate and atmospheric, with the old fashioned styled set being softly but warmly lit thanks to Andrew Exeter’s lighting design, offering some gorgeous moments during performances – particularly during the more tender numbers.

Written and conceived by Polycarpou, it is clear that a lot of thought and research has gone into ensuring that the composers and collaborators are all given equal time to shine. It consistently feels like a celebration of music and those who make it.

Meanwhile, the diverse range of songs that feature ensure that the balance between entertainment (‘The Sheikh’) and emotionally powerful numbers (‘What’ll I Do’) is nicely struck, while Mark Dickman’s arrangements keep the mood authentic. Every song is performed by Polycarpou and Triplett with great emotion and heaps of personality that keeps the show engaging to watch.

Overall, Falling Stars is a wonderfully nostalgic show that really captures the spirit of the 1920s and the music that was around at the time. A richly rewarding experience.

By Emma Clarendon

Falling Stars will be streamed via from the 22nd to the 29th November. It will then be performed live at the Union Theatre on the 8th and 9th January 2021.


from News, Reviews and Features – My Theatre Mates

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