Starting Here, Starting Now. Music by David Shire, lyrics by Richard Maltby. Waterloo East Theatre, London SE1 to 18 July 2021. 4****. William Russell.

Maltby and Shire in their long career had two off Broadway revues, 1977’s Starting Here, Starting Now and 1988’s Closer Than Ever, both of which have gone on to be performed all over the place. Closer Than Ever was seen several years ago at Jermyn Street Theatre and now we have this revival of their first revue which fans of musical theatre should rush to collect. It has been nicely staged, director Inga Davis-Rutter has kept things flowing smoothly and the cast of three, Nikki Bentley, Gina Murray and Noel Sullivan, who gets to play piggy in the middle so to speak in a show about love, marriage, divorce, doing the Sunday Times Crossword, leaving a lover, lying and dealing with women, are all experienced West End performers. The show is in safe hands although one does wonder why in this small theatre they had to be miked. If there is a problem it is quite simply that nobody sings nowadays like hey did in 1977, although this does not affect Sullivan so much. He is not much of a dancer, but he knows how to point a number and has loads of charm. But women today in musicals tend to perform their songs by ending up almost screaming the final high notes to hit the back of the Gods, assisted, of course, by the sound system. Maltby and Shire require a little more subtlety so maybe switch off the mikes ladies and just sing. But that said they perform their numbers with wit, and relish the words. The result is a choice resurrection, with charming melodies are charming and words to savour which should not be missed. There did appear to be a false ending at one point 70 minutes in when they donned gold sequined coats and top hats to make a full frontal cane assault on the audience. It worked. But they carried on for another five. If you can – go. The Waterloo East needs you.

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