I remember coming to St Paul’s several years ago to see a play reading that really blew me away and lo and behold I’m here again in this beautiful setting to see the show ‘Over My Shoulder’ starring mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin and talented pianist Paul Turner. A few weeks ago both Clare and myself were guests on Soho Radio with Clare Lynch and Leslie Hardcastle. Her interview was extremely interesting and and gave me the inspiration to come and see her show in the flesh. Thankfully I did!
Clare was introduced to German born Elisabeth Shumann (1888-1952) and London born Jessie Matthews (1907-1981) through a friend who stumbled across their grave stones in Ruislip cemetery. Whilst researching these two colourful characters, it dawned on Clare that they might have crossed each others paths in London. They were both extremely well-known singers Elisabeth a soprano and Jessie an actress, dancer and singer. They both would have been alive and working in London at some point at the same time. Perhaps they walked past each other on Drury Lane or Berwick Street Market. Each of them have a rich and intriguing story that Clare has cleverly latched onto and combined both of their lives into an excellent one woman show. Clare is honest and says “I m not trying to imitate Jessie or Elisabeth. This is my own interpretation”.
And quite frankly Clare need’nt imitate either ladies because her voice is breathtaking!
Gliding onto the stage in an off the shoulder jade evening dress delicately covered with a chic overcoat, she was the embodiment of sheer sophistication. Paul Turner was also extremely dapper and I loved how his patent shoes and The Steinway were equally shiny!
Opening with ‘Natchlied’ (Night Song) by Felix Mendelssohn we were instantly engaged by the beauty and elegance of Paul’s playing and like a comet coming through the sky Clare’s voice opened the heavens.
’London Pride’, ‘Parisien Pierrot’ and ‘A Room With A View’ by Noel Coward were all superb. I loved how Clare took all three pieces (which some would consider only hearing in the style of Coward) and turned them into her own classical extravaganza.
’Der Musensohn’ (Son of the Muse) by Franz Schubert, ‘Morgen’ (Morning) by Richard Strauss and ‘Bist du bei mir’ (Are you with Me) by Gottfried Heinrich Stolzel were all powerful and confident. They also gave room for a delicate and emotional aspect which added a stunning sensitivity to each piece. The whole show was beautifully woven together with segments of both ladies life stories in-between each song. The closing song was Jessie Matthews famous ‘Over my Shoulder’ by Harry Woods arr. Liam Dunachie.
Both Clare and Paul can really hold an audience and they are perfectly matched. It comes as no surprise they have a pedigree of fine work behind them.
It is true to say every song performed gave me goosebumps! I really hope this show moves to a great theatre/venue as it truly deserves great recognition. It might have been a cold night but I left filled with warmth and pure magic.
Words and photo’s Celine Hispiche