Ruth Leon recommends…Closer Than Ever – Maltby and Shire

Ruth Leon recommends…Closer Than Ever – Maltby and Shire

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

November 09, 2021

Closer Than Ever – Maltby and Shire
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I’m a big fan of the song-writing team of Richard Maltby Jr (lyrics) and David Shire (music) and this jewel of a song cycle demonstrates why. Closer than Ever is a captivating and hilarious song cycle which delves into the trials and tribulations of modern love, a journey of lust and romance, marriage and ageing, unrequited love and obsession. It’s a grown-up and unsentimental look at love in our time.

A talented quartet of British singers – Lee Mead, Kerry Ellis, Dalton Harris, and Grace Mouat – do the unassuming honours for the songs which reflect the lives of people who want and need to belong to someone else but are nervous to take that first step.

The physical production by Stacey Haynes with co-direction by the show’s original lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. leaves a lot to be desired (and did someone actually design this show?) but Closer Than Ever is a charming and easy listen without being simplistic. And the songs are still first-rate. It has several of my favourite songs, the perfect nailing of the 60s vibe for women of a certain age, I’m Not Complaining. And If I Sing still gives me goosebumps and brings tears to my eyes. I hope it will do the same for you.

Ignore the dingy surroundings, the pointless doors, the tin chairs, the dreadful clothes, the misguided set and anything else about the production that doesn’t work. Just listen to the songs by Maltby and Shire, sung by real singers, and you won’t be complaining, either.

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  • drummerman says:

    Wonderful songwriters and Richard Maltby, Jr. was also a co-creator of the Fats Waller musical “Aint MIsbehavin,” which ran on Broadway in the late ’70s. I had the pleasure of playing a regional production of it in 1982, co-directed by Mr. Maltby. (BTW, his father, Richard Sr., was a bandleader.)