Mascherato is a brand new musical created by the creative team comprising of Micheal Elderkin (who wrote Music, Lyrics, and Story) and James Willett (who created the book) that tells the story of two young people as they fall in love with the backdrop of war and an interestingly conflicting vibrant carnival. The story follows Luca, a young apprentice to stall-holder, and Elena who is the daughter of General Attilio as they develop a relationship but are torn apart due to the war and eventually reunited. Set in the heart of Venice’s San Marco square the musical uses the conflicting images of a lively and energetic carnival against the violence war brings.
What is very interesting about this album is the fact that it seems to be perfectly crafted to live life as a digital playlist. Usually, when musicals create a soundtrack of their shows they simply take the songs from the show and upload them onto the streaming sites which is great but you clear sense that you are listening to a digital album however with Mascherato there is a strong focus throughout on the art of storytelling rather on over-the-top musical numbers. Instead of simply just including the songs in the soundtrack includes a lot of dialogue and a physical narrator that helps to set the scene and inform the audience of what’s going. These inclusion helps to transport the audience from simply listening to the music to actually being a part of the show and really helps exaggerate the storytelling. I personally believe that this was done as a response to lockdown and theatres being closed and so (as listening to the soundtracks are the next best thing to love theatre) they carefully crafted the album to create the ambience and feelings of a live show. I have never encountered a musical that has down something like this (which would justify why it was nominated for a 2021 Grammy which in my opinion is very deserved) and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this new style of album and would like other productions to follow Mascherato’s example because it makes listening feel almost a special as live theatre. The album itself is fairly long in comparison to other modern musicals as the soundtrack contains thirty-five songs which covers approximately 1 hour and 42 minutes which to hark back to classical theatre and musicals.
The show opens in a very unusual and unique way with a prologue that is crammed full of dialogue. At first, I was very uncertain about the dramatic almost spoken-word style dialogue during the prologue but I can envisage this all being delivered in a blackout which would be insanely tense and atmospheric. This further adds to the heavy focus on storytelling and creating the ambience of the show. One of my personal favourite songs in this musical was the number titled “the carnival way” which was a very vibrant song filled with energy. I can imagine this number being staged as a big ensemble number with lots of energetic choreography and vibrant costumes. The energy in this song perfectly contrasted the rest of the serious, subdued pace of the show which was a very welcomed addition. The song “In a single moment” is a very beautiful song that was performed excellently by all performers included. This number is very emotional which is your classical theatre song that reminisces about the romantic moments Luca and Elana have shared and how fleeting they seem in retrospect. Another powerful song in the soundtrack was “What’s in a memory” which also talks about thinking back which was again very emotional and moving. I was very impressed by the song simply “The battle(score)” as the music had been carefully crafted to portray the theatrical depiction of the drama and tension associated with war. This was perfectly done and added a welcome spike in action that broke up the more emotional songs in the show.
Overall, this a more subdued musical that delivers a unique perspective on the classic musical soundtrack. The show maintains a strong focus on storytelling and invited the audience right into the centre of the show and actually transports them to the streets of Venice. The show uses interesting conflicting imagery and carefully plotted spikes in the mood to keep the listeners entertained. I would rate this soundtrack 5 out of 5 stars and am interested to see if they can manage to keep the powerful storytelling in a live adaptation of the show! Also don’t forget to give Mascherato a listen on Spotify, Apple Music or any other music streaming services!