THE merry magic of musical theatre and the unshackled spirit of jazz are two very different styles which are rarely, if ever, simultaneously seen on the same stage.

But a singer and pianist, who has previously mentored pop superstar Sam Smith, is set to pay homage to a famed composer by merging the two genres for a unique show. Joanna Eden, born in Lincolnshire, is bringing her new performance, Sondheim & Me, to Colchester’s Headgate Theatre on Wednesday.

She will be backed by the George Double trio, which is comprised of guitarist Gerry Hunt, double bassist Russell Swift, and drummer George Double.

The rule-breaking show is a tribute to Stephen Sondheim, who is considered by many to be the godfather of modern musical theatre, having scored a wide range of shows, from Sweeney Todd to West Side Story.

A devoted fan of his work since playing his track, Send in the Clowns, during her first concert at the age of 12, Joanna will rework some of Sondheim’s classics with a jazz twist.

Determined to not entirely dislodge the musical theatre backbone of the songs, Joanna has also enlisted the help of an experienced West End actress called Leigh McDonald.

Rather unusually, Leigh, who has been described by Joanna as “warm, funny and hilarious”, will perform the roles associated with the music Joanna is singing.

The vocalist, who has previously released four albums of both self-penned songs and cover versions, will also engage with the audience by giving insights into the story and context behind each of the composition she performs.

Speaking about how the show materialised, Joanna said her curiosity led her to experiment with Sondheim’s music.

“I’ve always loved the music of Stephen Sondheim and always found Sondheim quite jazzy,” she said.

“So, I wondered what his music would sound like with a real jazz band, and a more jazz style of singing.

“I rearranged great songs, like Send in the Clowns, Being Alive and Broadway Baby as jazz numbers, and they really work.

“You will hear me talking about their context and about what they mean to me.

“There’s always a bit of banter with the band too.

“I love the spontaneity of my gigs and see them as a conversation between me, the band and the audience.

“I can pretty much guarantee a wonderful night of quality music and entertainment.”

l Joanna Eden will perform at the Headgate Theatre on February 19 from 7.30pm. Tickets for the show cost £15 and can be bought at To find out more about Joanna Eden, go to