Did Alissa Finn choose to perform
a thoroughly pleasurable and enchanting show
But first a word about this famous venue’s prestigious history. Bob Dylan's first UK gig was staged here in 1962 and The Pogues trod the same boards twenty years later. Oasis added to the hall of fame, playing their first London gig under the lights in 1994, along with the likes of Katy Perry, The Courteeners and Ra Ra Riot over the years. Recently refurbished, they’ve installed a high-end D&B PA system which certainly did the job for Finn.
This evening includes songs from Stephen Sondheim, Kate Bush, Kander & Ebb, Dave Malloy and several others. They are woven into a narrative that takes snippets of Greek mythology to tell of the relationships between the goddesses and the gods and that highlights the timelessness of themes such as love, mischief, deceit and revenge. Their stories lead from one song to the next, proving the maxim that there is indeed a song for every occasion, even if they are moments from the classical ancient world. It’s a novel idea and with all the research Finn has done into the wealth of stories that surround the other-worldly beings she had plenty to choose from including the entanglements of Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Ares and Circe’s penchant for turning men into pigs.
It was the right day of the week for a show that starts with Sunday in the Park with George, a song that demonstrated her clarity of enunciation. There are a lot of words in rapid succession that can easily twist any tongue, but not in her case. Her vocal ability shone through each number, but it was the perfectly pitched and sublimely delivered top F# in such a quiet and soft tone at the beginning of Summertime that confirmed the purity of her voice.
Finn is a native New Yorker now based in London where she graduated from the Royal Academy of Music with an MA in Musical Theatre in 2019. She also holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and when required can perform as a coloratura soprano. She was raised in a family of musicians in a creative household surrounded by art and music. Her imagination is obvious in the composition of this show which she was performing for the first time since completing it.
Finn was joined on stage by guest artist Lily Kerhoas who did a fine performance of the agonising Sorry I Asked. Matthew Jackson was on the keyboard. Also from the Royal Academy, with an MA in Musical Direction and Coaching he gained after being awarded a first in music from Oxford, he handled the intricate finger work with ease and energetically provided the backing, though he was anything but in the background. The joy he gave was not only in his accomplished performance but in the obvious pleasure and involvement he exuded throughout the show. The chemistry between then really shone in a tantalising rendition of Mein Herr opening the second half, just in case we needed any reminder we were being treated to all the joys of a cabaret.
Jackson vacated his stool for the last number and displaying yet one further talent Finn accompanied herself on the keyboard for a rendition of Alicia Keys’ Ain’t Got You, before they all assembled for the finale to a thoroughly pleasurable and enchanting show that would have pleased the gods.