9 May 2015
Reviewed by Natasha Kolb
Last night we reviewed We’ve Only Just Begun at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton which is one of our favourite theatres to visit. We normally go during the week and this was our first weekend visit. This time the parking, which is situated close the theatre, was entirely free but this meant that it was also a lot busier so do allow an extra five or ten minutes to park. We entered the Derngate a little later than normal and also noticed how much busier the bar was, we struggled to buy our pre-show drinks before the 3 minute countdown was called!
I’m a child of the 80’s so the Carpenters were before my time, however I was brought up on the music of the Carpenters and, as I grew older, Karen Carpenters tragic death and her lasting legacy, highlighting awareness of eating disorders was even explained to me.
Therefore, I sat through this wonderful tribute to the music of the Carpenters, happily singing and swaying along with the rest of the audience.
The outstanding band are led by musical director Eugene McCarthy and feature keyboards, saxophone, flute, drums, bass, trumpet, flugelhorn horn as well as flawless singing from two backing singers. The band played the Carpenters unique sound live throughout the show with no pre-recorded tracks at all!
Toni Lee portrayed Karen Carpenter flawlessly, sounding uncannily like the original American singer. She had no trouble with the low notes Karen was famous for singing, Toni Lee warmly described it as ‘that special key for Karen’. At times, it truly sounded like we were listening to the original one and only Karen Carpenter, backed by an exceptional band. We were treated to many of The Carpenters hits including, Goodbye to Love, Rainy Days and Mondays, Top of the World and of course the title to the show, We’ve Only Just Begun as well as many many others. This was all constantly accompanied by overhead projections featuring images of Karen and Richard Carpenter as they grew up as well as their music videos.
The show was consistently of a high standard, even during a technical hitch with Toni Lee’s microphone ceasing to work, she carried on whilst encouraging the audience to sing up and the band worked hard to get the issue sorted quickly!
This show is touring around the country until May 21st so there is still time to see it!
We’ve Only Just Begun is on tour until 21 May 2015, To book ticket click here.
For other shows at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811