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Posts Tagged ‘Brenda Edwards’

I was one of those who thought this Hereward Kaye & Robert Longdon show was fun first time around, 25 years ago. It wasn’t really West End material though, and I did wonder why Cameron Mackintosh put it on. The critics, of course, didn’t like it then as they don’t now. It’s not for critics. It’s a camp anarchic romp for people who go to the theatre to have fun – and it’s got a very good pop score.

The premise is that we’re in a St Trinian’s-like school called St Godley who are putting on a musical based on Herman Melville’s novel, written by one of the schoolgirls and performed by the girls, head teacher, teacher, caretaker and a security guard(!). It takes place in the gym with a ladder, gym bars and gym horse just about the only props. There are loads of sight gags and verbal innuendo, in truth too much to take in. It works better on this scale than in did in the vast Piccadilly Theatre. 

The chief reason why this revival is a success is a hugely talented young cast of eight and two former X-Factor finalists – Anton Stephans and Brenda Edwards – who know how to belt out a tune and raise a laugh. Director / Choreographer Andrew Wright’s high energy dancing is made to look shambolic but is clearly well-drilled precision. There’s a fine band too under MD Lee Freeman. I was particularly impressed by the vocals of Rachel Anne Raynham and Laura Mansell and the dancing of Glen Facey.

I had as much fun as I did last time round.

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I’d love to report that The Young Vic has turned a Broadway flop into a hit in Southwark, particularly as it’s an ambitious and worthy community project, but I’m afraid I can’t – but it’s not for the want of trying.

This British premiere of a 25+ year-old ‘folk opera’ by the composer of Hair is timely, as there are parallels between its second world war story of soldiers dying a long way from home with current events. The trouble is, the story is little more than a sketch, the lyrics are weak (and with no dialogue they are crucial), the music is rather bland and it’s all too sentimental. The suggestion of Greek tragedy (it’s set in Ithaca and Homer and Ulysses are characters) is a bit half-baked and pointless and the show’s contrasting halves produce a lack of cohesion – it often seems like a song cycle rather than a show.

However, one cannot question the talent of the cast and creative team. There’s an excellent set from Jon Bausor which positively fills the Young Vic. There’s a fine band under MD Phil Bateman, some also doubling up as characters, and a great chorus of 80+ local people. The singing is outstanding, with superb vocal performances from Brenda Edwards, Jos Slovick, Helen Hobson, Tom Robertson, Terel Nugent and Jo Servi. Director John Fulljames is very good at marshalling lots of people as he does again here.

You do get caught up in the energy and enthusiasm of the performers, but a dud show is a dud show whatever you do. Composer Galt MacDermott’s third Broadway show, an adaptation of  Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, was also a dud so like Tony Kushner yesterday, he too seems to be a one-hit-wonder.

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