Founded in 2022, Taylor Jay Productions is a new theatre company aiming to expand from small-scale cabaret style productions to fully fledged musicals. Following on from successful productions on both sides of the Atlantic (Ordinary Days at London’s Phoenix Arts Club and a co-production of Island Song at Fenstein’s 54/Below) their most recent endeavour was a revival of Pasek and Paul’s song cycle, Edges. We were invited along to an industry showing of the production on 20 January.
When we hear “song cycle”, Jason Robert Brown’s Songs for a New World inevitably springs to mind, and this production of Edges invited comparisons by staging the show with a cast of four, named Man 1 (Cameron Collins), Woman 1 (Holly Adams), Man 2 (Gareth Evans) and Woman 2 (Maia Gough). And if that didn’t set the bar high enough, the show also boasts music and lyrics from the songwriting duo behind The Greatest Showman and Dear Evan Hansen.
That all sounds very promising, and it was clear that Pasek & Paul had great promise when they wrote Edges as 19 year old students in 2005 (becoming the youngest winners of the Jonathan Larsson award the following year). But, now 19 itself, Edges is rather showing its age – both in terms of the sophistication of the songs and the dated nature of the material. The Facebook song, in particular, suffers from this problem. What would have been an amusing topical number back in 2005 now feels like a relic of the past. (This is particularly painful to write as a Facebook-using fresher of 2005!) The show would greatly benefit from ditching this number entirely or clearly staging it as a piece of millennial nostalgia.
In general, however, the production does well with the limited material, with fantastic performances all round, but particularly from Holly Adams and Maia Gough who demonstrate versatility in both comic and more serious numbers. Cameron Collins also performed admirably on book, having jumped into the role at short notice. Ben Ward’s musical direction gets the best out of the score, while direction from Taylor Jay cleverly utilises different areas of the intimate space in the Phoenix Arts Club to ensure the audience is immersed in the action wherever they are sitting.
Although Edges is probably not a song cycle that was calling out for a revival, it offers an interesting insight into the early work of a prominent musical writing partnership. With themes of coming of age and growth, it is a fitting showcase of new musical theatre talent from this exciting new production company.
Edges played at Phoenix Arts Club from 20 to 21 January 2024. We received a complimentary press ticket to a special industry performance on 20 January.