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Posts Tagged ‘Colin Richmond’

I’ve seen just about every major musical, but not this one. It’s been filed in my too-twee-for-me compartment. January offers tempted me to give it a go, and I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s a touring production brought in to the West End but the production values and performances are no second best.

Orphan Annie is obsessed about finding the parents who abandoned her eleven years before. She escapes from Miss Hannigan’s cruel institution, but gets caught after a brief spell hanging out with the depression era homeless. Billionaire Warbucks decides to host an orphan for Christmas and his PA Grace chooses Annie, against Miss Hannigan’s wishes. Warbucks and his entire staff fall for her and he decides to adopt her, but when he presents her with a new locket she says she’d rather find the parents who gave her the old one, so he launches a search with the help of the FBI and the President (he’s well connected, this man). The only couple who come forward are fakes, so the adoption goes ahead and everyone is happy, except Miss Hannigan and her brother and his girlfriend, who get arrested.

It’s all simple stuff and it’s very sentimental, but it surprised me by how much the Great Depression setting featured. There was also a touch of A Christmas Carol about it. Nikolai Foster’s production is slick and snappy, with excellent designs by Colin Richmond (the set has a touch of Matilda about it) and nifty choreography by Nick Winston. There wasn’t a weak link in the casting. Meera Syal made a great baddie and her strong voice was a revelation. Alex Bourne has great presence as Warbucks and great chemistry with Annie. On the night I went, Isobel Khan played Annie terrifically and you can’t help falling in love with her six fellow orphans, Team Madison that night. It seemed a particularly happy company, and their enthusiasm and joy was so infectious I melted and removed it from the too-twee-for-me compartment.

A delightful surprise.

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Though I’ve seen both Julius Caesar and Anthony & Cleopatra a number of times before, I’ve never seen them within months let alone days of one another. So call me a dummy, but it only dawned on me when I saw this the day after JC that they effectively constitute sequential Roman history and share three characters – the Roman triumvirate of Octavius Caesar, Lepidus and Mark Anthony that replaced Julius Caesar when he was murdered. Why don’t theatres pair them like they do the (British) history plays? In this case, The Globe opened A&C before JC and they have different casts (otherwise you’d be wondering how Mark Anthony managed to age so much and pile on the pounds overnight!)

A brilliant opening of Egyptian music and dancing sets the scene for a production which moves seamlessly from Rome to Egypt and back in an excellent design, with superb costumes, by Colin Richmond (I think I might have to steal Cleopatra’s gold winged throne); you really feel you are experiencing two different cultures. Jonathan Munby injects great pace and physicality into the play but still allows more intimate scenes their space, though it does make you feel all the fun is to be had in Egypt and Rome is rather dull in comparison (though the drinking scene in Pompey’s camp is a glorious exception).

Eve Best’s Cleopatra is a combination of feisty, playful and sexy, with more costume changes than a Kylie Minogue concert (not that I’d know, of course) enabling her to look like a pirate queen, a seductress and the most regal of royals amongst others. She even flirts with the audience and one groundling got very good value for his £5 with a full on kiss on the lips! Her closeness with her attendants Charmian (an excellent Sirine Saba) and Iras (Rosie Hilal, who doubles up as Octavia almost unrecognisably) is very much in the fore. Clive Wood’s Anthony emphasises his infatuation with the much younger Cleopatra but also the psychological and emotional pull back to Rome; a typical mid-life crisis.

This is as good an Anthony & Cleopatra as Julius Caesar is as good a production of that play and I really enjoyed seeing them in the right order so close together, even if it wasn’t intentional!

The Globe was buzzing this weekend, proving itself indispensable yet again.

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