Your Lie In April – The Musical in Concert ★★★★★ Theatre Royal Drury Lane | April 8 & 9, 2024

Based on the popular Manga of Naoshi Arakawa, Your Lie In April – The Musical in Concert tells the story of a young, prize-winning pianist who has lost his ability to hear the piano after his mother's death. The passing of his perfectionist parent has led Kōsei, played by Zheng Xi Yong, to abandon his vocation and to sink into despair. Although supported by his friends, Ryōta and Tsubaki, it is not until the enthusiastic and free-spirited violinist, Kaori, comes along that he begins to rediscover his aptitude for music. This is a modest little love story that is unabashedly sentimental, but it has a magic that will melt even the hardest heart. Frank Wildhorn has written a lovely score and songs like "Just Like A Movie" and "One Hundred Thousand Million Stars" are instantly relatable. The in-concert version of the show exposed a few wrinkles that still need to be ironed out, but the simplicity of this presentation nicely complemented the unpretentious nature of the story. For us, Kōsei's duet with his younger self was awkward, but we certainly don't need any big production numbers which might overwhelm this small gem of a tale which almost becomes a gloss on Fritz Kreisler's oft-referred to "Liebesleid." Dean John-Wilson does a nice turn as the slow, but not insensitive jock, Ryōta, and Rachel Clare Chan is great fun as the persistent, but passed-over Tsubaki. As Kaori, Rumi Sutton moves nicely from perky to poignant, but ultimately, the show really centres around Zheng Xi Yong's Kōsei. When he actually overcomes his anxieties and plays the piano the moment is truly show-stopping. It is that performance that makes sense of everything that has gone before and brings a level of realism to the show that resonates through his relationship with his mother and Kaori. The art of Your Lie In April – The Musical in Concert is to make virtuosity look simple.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Mark Senior

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