WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Menier Chocolate Factory RUNTIME: 150 minutes (including two intervals)
WHEN? 22/11, press night 3/12, runs to 7/3/20
Julie Andrews made her American stage debut in this 1954 British musical in a role played here by Amara Okereke who won a Stage Debut award for Best Actress in a Musical
- Read on for reasons including how this impressive cast includes comedian Adrian Edmondson
Okereke plays Polly Browne in Sandy Wilson’s all-singing, all-dancing love letter to 1920s musical comedies which returns for its first major London revival in over 10 years.
This British musical is set in Madame Dubonnet’s finishing school in the south of France where young ladies burst into song and potential boy friends are forever stopping by to sing and dance with them.
The plot is wafer-thin but we very much enjoyed comic number It’s Never Too Late To Fall In Love in which the philandering Lord Brockhurst (Adrian Edmondson having a lot of fun) is seduced by his wife in disguise (Issy Van Randwyck, convincingly melting before our eyes).
The casting is very strong and Janie Dee (so memorable in Follies at the National) has a lot of fun as Dubonnet while Tiffany Graves as her co-worker Hortense excels in high-kicking showstopper It’s Nicer In Nice.
We’re big fans of musicals in the round (High Society, Old Vic) and the intimate Menier means the audience really feels part of the action as the dancing in particular is hugely impressive.
Won’t You Charleston With Me? gives a great sense of the spectacle of the show as the cast justifies fully the ‘extra’ in extravaganza.
Okereke is definitely a name to watch out for in the future and her love story with Dylan Mason’s mysterious Tony is cute and finds itself expressed beautifully in I Could Be Happy With You.
The mood is light, both frivolous and joyous, and the Shakespearean denouement means this feel-good musical is perfect counter-programming at Christmas for those looking for a really good time.