Review: And Then There Were None, Richmond Theatre


Ten Little Indians were not PC;
but better than th’original from Mrs Christie.

(So) Nine Little Soldier Boys were chosen instead;
To set up the rhyme, leaving ten people dead.

Eight Little Soldier Boys now touring the UK;
From Jan’ry to November with this well-travelled play.

Seven Little Soldier Boys might call this a classic;
Most likely since its done the rounds since the Jurassic.

(But) Six Little Soldier Boys cannot deny;
A master storyteller whose works will never die.

Five Little Soldier Boys might say to you;
Pay some attention here and get a big clue.

Four Little Soldier Boys will spot some TV stars;
Emmerdale, Blue Peter, Pascoe, crowdpleasers hurrah!

Three Little Soldier Boys will also see Paul Nicholas;
A permatanned acting colossus, his presence here will trick us.

Two Little Soldier Boys produced by Bill Kenwright;
But no role here for Miss Seagrove, I hope their future’s still bright.

(Now) One Little Soldier will give you guilty pleasure;
Directed by Joe Harmston, it’s a mystery to treasure.

The name of the show is And Then There Were None
Now I’m rhyming with Susan Penhaligon

Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with 2 intervals)
Booking until 30th May, then touring to Gravesend, Crawley, Rhyl, Croydon, Cardiff, Harrogate, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Bury St Edmunds, Dublin, Leeds, Cambridge, Swansea, Torquay, Southend, Swindon, Ipswich, Tunbridge Wells, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Derby and Manchester

CD Review: Bugsy Malone (NYMT 1997)

“We could have been anything that we wanted to be”

The news that the Lyric Hammersmith will be reopening with a production of Bugsy Malone will have rightly gladdened the hearts of all right-thinking people and it also reminded me that I had the soundtrack to the show that I’d not gotten round to listening to yet. Where the film (featuring the likes of Jodie Foster and Scott Baio, as well as Mark Curry, Dexter Fletcher and Bonnie Langford) dubbed adult voices onto its child performers, the National Youth Music Theatre mounted an all-youth production that ended up in the West End and which had amongst its number, a certain Sheridan Smith.

There’s real interest in the soundtrack for musical fans as Paul Williams donated songs that were not included in the film, ‘That’s Why They Call Me Dandy’ and ‘Show Business’, the first of which is quite an adorable character number for Dandy Dan (sung here by Stuart Piper and the company) and the second of which is no great shakes (sung by Alex Lee, presumably the Lena Marelli character). And amongst the more familiar numbers are some lovely arrangements which bolster the tunes – the second half of ‘I’m Feeling Fine’ becomes a tender duet, the utterly beautiful ‘Tomorrow’ enhanced by company BVs. Continue reading “CD Review: Bugsy Malone (NYMT 1997)”

Review: All Creatures Great and Small, Yvonne Arnaud

“It takes the death of an animal to make them see sense”

There’s no doubting that here and now, a television adaptation full of television stars is a safe bet for a theatre tour but whilst one may think better the devil you know, this version of All Creatures Great and Small demonstrates the difficulties in transferring something so beloved onto the stage. Simon Stallworthy based his play on two of James Herriot’s original books – If Only They Could Talk and It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet – rather than the TV series and though there’s ingenuity in the way it is crafted (without using any livestock on stage…) its flat, episodic nature lacks energy leaving me a deeper shade of blue.

We open with – what else – a cow experiencing difficulties whilst giving birth and inexperienced vet James manages to avert a tragedy with his veterinary skills, ensuring the calf is born with a nice strong heartbeat. From there, we cycle through his arrival in the Yorkshire Dales, being taken under the wing of the idiosyncratic Farnon brothers and meeting 5, 6, 7, 8, any number of gruff farmers whom he has to win over whilst coming to terms with the realities of becoming a practicing vet. And of course it proves to be a summer of love as a chain reaction of events means he meets Helen, his eventual wife-to-be.  Continue reading “Review: All Creatures Great and Small, Yvonne Arnaud”

Review: Victor/Victoria, Southwark Playhouse

“A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman? That’s preposterous.”

It is sad that the Southwark Playhouse will have to quit its current London Bridge premises as it has hit a vein of real good form allied to a growing understanding of how best to use the converted railway arches and particularly so with this creative team, who have made this the hot venue for musical theatre on the South Bank, challenging both the nearby Union and Menier Chocolate Factory. Following on from rapturously received productions of Parade and Mack and Mabel, director Thom Southerland has turned his hand to a new adaptation of musical comedy Victor/Victoria.

With a book written by Blake Edwards for his wife Julie Andrews, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Henry Mancini and posthumously completed by Frank Wildhorn, the show on paper isn’t necessarily that distinguished. In 1930s Paris, English soprano Victoria Grant is struggling to get a job but a chance encounter with Toddy, her instant gay best friend, thrusts her into the limelight as he hits on the idea of Victoria pretending to be a female impersonator and so Count Victor Grazinski is born, taking the cabaret scene by storm and causing all kinds of sexual confusion as men find themselves irresistibly drawn to this enthralling new performer. Continue reading “Review: Victor/Victoria, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Company, Southwark Playhouse

“Everything’s different, nothing’s changed, only maybe slightly rearranged”

Marking the first ever musical to play at the Southwark Playhouse, Stephen Sondheim’s Company is one of the few shows that didn’t receive an airing in London last year (aside from the Donmar concert version) but receives a fringe production here from Mokitagrit, who are riding high on the recent success of Double Falsehood which is now transferring to the New Players Theatre for a brief extended run. It contains some of Sondheim’s greatest songs, but with its tricksy structure and book by George Furth, I have found it a difficult show to love.

The story centres on eternal singleton Bobby who is just about to turn 35. He is juggling three girlfriends and the 5 sets of married couples that make up his best friends are keen for him to settle down, but as the show progresses through a series of vignettes that look at each couple in turn, we see that each couple has their own story, their own take on marriage and their exhortations for Bobby to give up his bachelorhood masks issues in their own lives. Continue reading “Review: Company, Southwark Playhouse”