In 1978 Jeff Wayne composed and produced one of the most groundbreaking and best-selling musical works of all time. In 2006 after much anticipation Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War ...
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Stage musical adaptation of H.G. Wells' alien invasion novel, recorded live at London's O2 arena in 2012. The reimagined story, which was first released in 1978 as a concept album by Jeff ... See full summary »
Kerry Jane Ellis,
In 1978 Jeff Wayne composed and produced one of the most groundbreaking and best-selling musical works of all time. In 2006 after much anticipation Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of The Worlds was brought to the stage for the first time, playing to sold-out arenas across the UK. The War of The Worlds Live is a spectacular mix of live music, theatre, multi-media and visual arts on a grand scale. Written by
Jeff Wayne's 'War of the Worlds' musical was one of the high points of the 1970s, a fantastic, overblown, powerful, electronic creation showcasing the singing of Phil Lynott, Julie Covington, David Essex, Justin Hayward, and the narration of Richard Burton. As an audio experience it was irresistible and has stood the test of time well.
Now the stage version brings visuals, a stadium powerhouse, semi-staged scenes and screen tricks, plus Wayne himself conducting an orchestra performing his score. Hayward returns to sing the lovely 'Forever Autumn' and other gaps are filled by Russell Watson, Tara Blaise, Chris Thompson ...
A gimmick though which fails is a holographic Richard Burton, lips synching to the original dialogue, but otherwise inanimate and a bit creepy. The decision to use the original narration was sound - who else could do it with such style and panache? - but this particular visual is a bit cheap and silly, as it is impossible for an inanimate object to interact with the characters on stage. Much better to play the voice alone.
One strength of the original recording was the ability of it to conjure up images of the story. The stage version presents those images almost in overload - it would look fantastic perhaps, if you were in an arena looking at a big screen, but on TV it looks too much. We don't need to see everything spelt out on screen for us.
This said, the music remains strong, and the story survives this strange treatment of it. But I'd still rate the recording over this new version.
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