30 May 2016
Reviewed by Jayne Wiggins
Music has always had the power to evoke great emotions in people, and the music of the Carpenters is no exception. This show, set in the cultural heart of Northampton, took to the stage at the Royal & Derngate Theatre. The mixed audience was sadly small with far too many empty seats in my opinion. For such talent on stage, it is a travesty that more people did not see this touring show.
The stage was set with a large screen overhead, showing videos of the Carpenters and stills of their touring lives, the audio/visuals adding to the overall experience. Toni Lee was splendid in her role portraying the velvet voice of Karen Carpenter. Indeed an audience member said of her voice “if I close my eyes I can actually hear Karen singing”. The backing band and singers were exceptional in their skills which occasionally took my eye off the main entertainment as I watched in awe at their musicality.
Our evening was set off well with an easy journey in the town centre and easy parking. We were pleasantly surprised to find free parking on weekends and bank holidays, an added bonus! The modern bar within the theatre was well stocked and we were served quickly, managing to secure our interval drinks once again by pre-ordering them on arrival. The other facilities were well stocked and clean with no queues to use the toilets.
I hadn’t realised what influence the Carpenters music had in my personal life. Many in the audience spoke of stirred memories of childhood as Toni Lee did this genre justice with skill and enthusiasm. Many of the pieces featured this evening have influenced lives for ages and the Carpenters indeed live on in these live shows. Audience participation was encouraged and the enthusiasm of the performers was mirrored in the audience. The audio/visuals eventually brought the audience to tears telling Karen’s story and personal struggles.
I have seen many shows at the Derngate this year, but if there is one show you must find on tour, this is the one. The music of the Carpenters lives on! A show for all ages.
For other shows at the Royal & Derngate visit www.royalandderngate.co.uk.
Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP | 01604 624811