For the first time since 1953, Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner’s musical The Day Before Spring was fully performed.
As part of the University of Sheffield’s Festival of Arts and Humanities, Forged in Sheffield presented the modern revival in the University’s own Firth Court. The decorative setting lended itself perfectly to the play, enhancing the ambience and acoustics of the piece.
“The manic theme and overall upbeat energy was well portrayed by the cast.”
The Day Before Spring, written in 1945, tells the story of Katherine Townsend. Though happily married, an encounter with her last love, Alexander Maitland, who she nearly eloped with, creates complication for Katherine, as she is charmed when she learns that he wrote a book about her. Caught up in the throws is husband Peter Townsend, who attended the reunion with her, and Katherine begins to doubt whether she made the right decision after all when she moved on from Alexander those years before. The manic theme and overall upbeat energy was well portrayed by the cast who kept up their enthusiasm throughout despite the length of the acts. With over 20 songs and nearly three hours of total performance, it would have been easy for the standard to slip but the cast never faltered.
Dr Dominic McHugh, Senior Lecturer in Musicology and producer of this modernised classic, can undoubtedly add this to his list of successes. McHugh rediscovered a complete piano conductor score in 2009 from production company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which had bought the rights to a film version in 1945. Up until McHugh’s full professional production, which was orchestrated for the Forgotten Broadway Musicals project, there had only been partial representation of the material since 1953, so the occasion was truly momentous. Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner were responsible for the score of My Fair Lady (1956) and, while The Day Before Spring is no match for their most famous work, this is a musical comedy that deserves to entertain and charm an audience in its entirety once more.
Accolades are more than deserved of the University of Sheffield Broadway Orchestra, who truly brought life to the score and had the audience mesmerised with their flawless cohesion. The entire cast and production team deserved a much larger crowd than they had and nothing but applause. Bravo!
The University of Sheffield’s Festival of Arts and Humanities runs until 22nd May 2017. For more information, visit https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/festivalah.