Which Witch—The Operamusical

London Cast Album

1993: Notabene Records NBCD 015

CD 1

    Act One

  1. Overture
  2. Malleus Maleficarum
  3. The Marriage Contract
  4. Confession
  5. The Blessing
  6. Si, Si
  7. You Are My Love
  8. True Believers
  9. Yours
  10. The Herb Deal
  11. The Spire
  12. Bad Omens
  13. Daniel’s Prayer
  14. Spin The Wheel
  15. Bad Omens II
  16. Spectral Evidence
  17. The Ducking
  18. Maria’s Curse
  19. If This Should Fail

CD 2

  1. Midsummer Night
  2. Eternally
  3. Nightmare
  4. Black Mass
  5. The Witches
  6. Queen Of The Dark
  7. The Invocation

    Act Two

  8. Overture II
  9. How Do You Feel?
  10. Possessed
  11. The Executioner
  12. Daniel Do Not Die
  13. Little Witch
  14. Cardinal Gonzaga
  15. The Exorcism
  16. 2,665,866,746,664 Little Devils
  17. Gertrude’s Arrest
  18. Testimony
  19. She’s Guilty
  20. The End
  21. Rescue
  22. Almighty God
  23. Reunion
  24. Burn The Witches
  25. Hallelujah

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.”