By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
WHEN?: Saturday 9 July (matinee), runs to 3 September 2022 RUNTIME: 160 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
There’s a seemingly unscripted moment at the final curtain call when Bonnie Langford completes the highest kick of the show, with her leg above her head, that makes you think about what could have been.
- Read on for reasons including how this show is still ‘just the kick London needs to help it as theatres re-open’
Which is not to say that the 4 new leads in this production which 1st set sail at the Barbican last summer is not still an uplifting voyage but the stardust which leading lady Sutton Foster brought to the original show is not quite as in evidence here.
Kerry Ellis plays Reno Sweeney and while her singing and acting are on a par with Foster’s her dancing doesn’t quite make her the triple threat of her predecessor.
This is the 1st time we’ve seen Denis Lawson onstage as gangster and public enemy number 13 Moonface Martin and he’s an engaging personality able to dance and be deftly funny.
Langford’s high kick made us wonder whether she’s aspirations to play Sweeney but as Evangeline Harcourt, mother of the woman about to get married at the show’s heart, is as funny as she needs to be in the role but we wondered whether she’s more to give the production.
We’d also not seen Simon Callow on stage before as Elisha Whitney, Harcourt’s beau, and while he has a gift for comedy he seemed humourously out of time with the rest of the cast during 1 of the show’s big numbers, Blow Gabriel Blow.
But we’re being very picky because this production still retains the fizz of a sublime score that contains well known songs including I Get A Kick Out Of You, You’re The Top, It’s De-Lovely.
You join us in 1934 aboard the SS American and this is the story of Wall Street broker Billy Crocker, original cast member Samuel Edwards, who is pursuing the love of his life Hope Harcourt, fellow original Nicole-Lily Baisden, who is engaged to be married to Brit Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
This is our 5th viewing of this show but the 1st with this new cast and what impresses is the strength in depth of the show.
Carly Mercedes Dyer’s (The Color Purple, Curve Leicester) Buddy Beware is a real saucy highlight and Haydn Oakley’s self-deprocating The Gypsy In Me meant we could absolutely understand why Sweeney falls for him.
We described the original production as being ‘just the kick London needs to help it as theatres re-open’ and that kick’s still strong thanks to the new members of this fine cast.