WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Kiln Theatre RUNTIME: 120 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 3/8, runs to 7/9/19
It’s our 1st visit to north London’s refurbished Kiln Theatre and we’re in the centre of the front row to see Olivier Award-winning Sharon D. Clarke’s (pictured above) turn in this musical set in a rundown Chicago hotel in 1938 and concentrating on the lives of 3 women.
- Read on for reasons including why it is the live music and impressive singing you’ll remember here
D. Clarke (Caroline, Or Change) plays The Lady, while Debbie Kurup (Sweet Charity) is The Woman and Gemma Sutton (The Rink) The Girl to Clive Rowe’s The Man.
The dialogue is minimal and the musical revue is told through the torch and blues songs of artists including Bessie Smith, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen.
D.Clarke is always a considerable presence but it is on the more humorous songs here (Kitchen Man and New Orleans Hop-Stop Blues) where some much-needed fun is injected into what is an accomplished but rather downbeat evening.
The singing is exemplary: Kurup tugs at the heartstrings as she battles with her demons and Sutton is initially hopeful but later deflated as the man in her life lets her down.
Rowe is the common thread who runs through all three women’s lives and he’s infuriating, a little too pleased with himself but also in showstopping vocal form.
This revue was initially staged off Broadway in 1980 before transferring to the Donmar in 1987 and later the West End.
Director Susie McKenna, also an Associate Director at the Kiln, stages this beautifully and we particularly enjoyed the cheeky, same sex interaction between The Barman and The Hustler played by Joseph Poulton and Aston New.
It contributes to an entertaining if appropriately blue revue with fantastic live music which showcases the impressive voices of the 4 leads.