THEATRE REVIEW: Mrs Henderson Presents starring Tracie Bennett

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHERE: Noel Coward Theatre

WHEN: 9/2, runs to 18/6

We last saw Tracie Bennett in Judy Garland biopic End of the Rainbow at the Trafalgar Studios for which she was nominated for a Tony.

Here she stars as Mrs Henderson, the widow who buys Soho’s Windmill Theatre and transforms its fortunes in the 1930s by featuring nude women in tableaux, sidestepping (without moving) the concerns of censors.

The 2005 film starred Judi Dench and Bennett arrives on stage in mimic mode but eventually imbues her character with such cheek, naughtiness and backstory heartbreak that any nostalgia for the film soon dissolves. The script is funny and the songs are memorable particularly I Can Be Anything But Young which Bennett revels in with the venue’s manager (Vivian Van Damm played with real feeling by Ian Bartholomew).

The funniest moment is when the Windmill chorus refuses to strip unless the all-male crew does so first – and they do. Samuel Holmes is memorable as the out and proud Bertie. There is a touching romantic thread featuring the star of the show (the brave and bold Emma Williams) and a crew member who joins up to fight in World War Two.

We haven’t seen the film for a while but the story here seemed to have more dramatic weight and the set piece choreography by Andrew Wright is worth the price of admission alone. It’s Bennett who steals the show but this is a fine original musical by a multi-talented ensemble cast.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Mrs Henderson Presents. Tickets here.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham

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