Which Witch—The Operamusical
London Cast Album
1993: Notabene Records NBCD 015
I bought this in the late 1990s specifically as a perfect gag gift for my friend Rob, and to be fair I got a copy for myself. In over five years of having it in my possession, I never actually played it—nor have I even listed it as being in my CD collection, as it’s resided on an out-of-the-way shelf the whole time, safely quarantined—until now (February 2005). I just couldn’t—I’d been too well warned about it by Sheridan Morley’s review of it for the International Herald Tribune (28 October 1992), a review so hilarious that I’ve kept a copy all this time. I must quote him for you:
At the Piccadilly, “Which Witch” is billed as an “operamusical” set in the middle ages and is roughly what you would get if you stopped an amateur operatic society midway through rehearsals of “The Sound of Music” and told them to do “The Crucible” instead.
It is not only an operamusical, it is a trulyterrible, beyondbelief, appallingshambles of a show, which neither the director, Piers Haggard (who also wrote the book, such as it is), nor the local lyricist, Kit Hesketh-Harvey, have managed to lift beyond a level of risible inadequacy.
One of the better songs starts, “First you catch the dirty bitch, / then you drop her in a ditch,” but mercifully I forget the rest. Haggard’s own production resembles Madame Tussaud’s on an unusually dull day, and if the show lasts much beyond Halloween it will I suspect be at considerable cost to its Norwegian investors, who are presumably inflicting this on us as a punishment for never having taken them seriously enough in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Years from now, stunned members of the first night audience will be holding reunions to try to recall whether “Which Witch” was really as appalling as it first appeared. It was, it was.
So you can see why I was reluctant to even play the thing once…hell, even looking through the production photos was a cringefest I had to leave unfinished, it was just TOO bad. But now I’m actually playing it and mostly listening…and it is excruciatingly bad. Sheridan was right, as always. Cheesy syndrums under most of the tracks, utterly forgettable melodies, electric guitars and clichéd synthesizers (always a bad idea when presenting scenes of the Middle Ages), interminable sung scenes, syncopated 1980s music…. I guess the operamusical’s creators (perhaps “perpetrators” is the word) aspired to “Les Miserables” but instead ended up with something that makes “Starlight Express” seem like “West Side Story.”
HOME • MUSIC
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.