A Spoonful of Sherman (review). Teamwork creates a dazzling show

I’m on a sugar high after overdosing on schmaltz at a night celebrating two of America’s greatest songwriters.

Tuesday, 14th January 2014, 12:30 pm
A Spoonful of Sherman
A Spoonful of Sherman

Walt Disney may have built a magical ‘toon empire but it was the Sherman Brothers who gave the mouse maestro his voice.

Pretty much every iconic Disney movie musical had the duo’s unforgettable tunes running through them. What is less known is that the multiple award-winning brothers also provided songs for his theme parks as well as writing for other studios.

Last night, at the lovely new St James’ Theatre, just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, more than 90 years of hits were revisited thanks to a new generation Sherman wanting to plug a book about his dad and the Sherman Bros’ incredible songs.

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The Sherman Brothers

Robbie Sherman, son of Bob, nephew to Richard and grandson to the founder of the song-writing dynasty, Al, gave us A Spoonful of Sherman. It was a night of pure indulgence.

The set transported everyone back to their childhoods. For as long as anyone can remember every family-friendly Disney musical has been accompanied by songs so saccharine-coated, warm and wonderful, that they have never left us.

Robbie, not the most confident of public speakers, presented a eulogy to a father he clearly adored, proudly declaring that his dad wrote songs that inspired hope.

In the beginning Russian immigrant Al was a star of Tin Pan Alley, passing on his song-writing skills to his sons Bob and Dick. The precocious Bob wrote and directed his first radio musical at 16; a year later he was leading troops into the liberation of Dachau, and weeks after, received a Nazi bullet to the leg which left him with a lifelong limp.

Robbie Sherman

The Shermans’ song-writing prowess came into its own after going to work for Disney and, despite what you may have seen in the recent Emma Thompson film, Saving Mr Banks, Robbie says Walt really was a wonderful guy.

Over the course of two hours we heard snatches of the Sherman life story accompanied by a talented foursome of West End singing stars – Greg Castiglioni, Stuart Matthew Price, Charlotte Wakefield and Emma Williams.

They took us through the Sherman back catalogue including songs from Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Jungle Book, Winnie The Pooh and more.

It was all delightfully upbeat and utterly magical.

The effervescent Castiglioni, last seen at the helm of the smash hit musical, Titanic, gave a highly animated performance that was enthusiastically applauded by a packed house while Charlotte was Julie Andrews personified, giving an eerily familiar rendition of A Spoonful of Sugar.

Both Price and Williams made the hairs stand up with emotionally charged turns that reminded us of the breadth of the Shermans’ remarkable talents.

There was a lot of fun to be had during the night with the group bouncing around like Tiggers for Jungle Book, Castiglioni playing a pair of sewer rats and an ugly bug, plus Mr Price playfully attempting to upstage him at regular intervals.

Robert also showcased his own song-writing talent, presenting songs he has written for upcoming projects.

The St James Theatre Studio was packed to the rafters with fans. The only disappointment is that the show only had such a very limited run. Any chance of an encore Mr S?