This review was originally written for The Public Reviews
The cast of Paradise Lost have taken the bold and ambitious move to launch their new musical as an album. Inspired by classic shows like Evita, Chess and Les Miserables, all of which were first launched as albums, writers Lee Ormsby and Jonathan Wakeham are hoping to find an audience for their new musical through the music, as ultimately it’s the songs that decide whether a show will stand or fall.
Based on the famous poem by John Milton, Paradise Lost is an intimate love story set against the epic backdrop of the war in Heaven. It tells the story of Angelis, Michael and Lucifer, three young angels as they struggle to balance ambition and duty with love and desire at a time of culture clash, political violence and change. The limited edition two-disc CD recording features 24 tracks performed by 28 West End singers including two-time Olivier nominee Charlotte Wakefield, Ricardo Afonso and Matthew Wycliffe.
Like many musicals, what makes Paradise Lost so special is its big, bold and memorable melodies. From the sweet and simple solos to the thrilling chorus numbers, the show’s magical score and stunning vocal performances propel the story forward, with each song clearly reflecting the character who sings it. Angelis’ numbers are sweet, simple and emotive, Michael’s are heartfelt and heroic, while Lucifer’s are strong, seductive and dangerous.
The star of the show is undoubtedly Charlotte Wakefield who plays the young and ambitious Angelis. Her solo number When I See His Face is beautifully sung, with a magical arrangement that sounds like something straight out of a Disney film. Her sweet and soaring duet with Michael (Matthew Wycliffe) in Something More / Paradise Lost is equally enchanting and full of emotion.
Ricardo Afonso is also superb as the seductive and dangerous Luthier, the fallen angel desperate for revenge. His deep whispering vocals in Satan Alone / Secrets and Lies are reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera and his strong and determined performance in the dramatic Here I Am is sure to give you goosebumps.
Fast-paced thrilling chorus numbers such as The Presentation, The Debate and The Final Battle add depth and drama. The light-hearted If Only He’d Notice Me and Young and In Love by three lovelorn angels Seraphael (Anna Francolini), Mirh (Annette McLaughlin) and Zephron (Amanda Minihan) are also worth a listen, providing some needed comic relief to the otherwise dark and intense story.
Beautiful, dark and compelling, Paradise Lost’s magical score and enchanting cast performance make it an intriguing listen. If the CD recording is anything to go by, we can’t wait to see it live on stage.
Released on Wednesday 17th December 2014
Reviewer: Donna Kelly