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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Willetts’

Perhaps I shouldn’t have seen this straight after a run of four musical comedies. It might be only 75 minutes, but it’s a dark affair. Unlike the Wildhorn-Bricusse Jekyll & Hyde musical, this is a three-hander chamber piece that’s less gothic and more introspective.

In seventeen scenes and eighteen songs we follow Jekyll, his fiancée Katherine, good-time girl Lizzie and of course Hyde from being booed by his peers to murder and consequential incarceration. With a book by Gary Young, the scenes and songs seem to change before they’ve been fully developed, leaving you with the impression of work-in-progress. It’s virtually sung through with a sub-operatic score by Tony Rees that left me a bit cold.

One can’t fault Robert McWhir’s production, though. Designer Martin Thomas has created a simple period feel with excellent lighting from Richard Lambert. With just cello for company, MD Matheson Bayley plays the score on piano from memory! The performances are all good – Dave Willetts no less as Jekyll / Hyde, Alexandra Fisher as Katherine & Jessie Lilley as Lizzie.

It was all a bit melodramatic and earnest for me, but maybe that’s because I was by now programmed to laugh!

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Well, I never thought I’d see two duds in the same year at the Menier, let alone two within 5 weeks! This revival of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s chamber musical follows hot on the heels of the dreadful Paradise Found.

This is going to sound bizarre, but the most extraordinary thing about this show is that it’s dreadfully slow but seems rushed. It tries to cover too much ground in far too many scenes and in doing so it lacks depth of both characterisation and narrative. As you leave one scene, you can almost hear them say ‘right, quick, let’s do the circus scene then get the props off and move on to sunset at the Pyrenees house’. It didn’t involve me, engage me or move me at all.

There are some nice tunes, but two or three of them return so often it becomes relentless and you start thinking  ‘oh no, here’s that Love Changes Everything’ tune back again; the small orchestra play the score beautifully though. Michael Arden as Alex and Dave Willetts as George were believable and do their best with the material, but I’m afraid I thought Katherine Kingsley was badly miscast as Rose and her singing occasionally made me wince. The best performance by far was Rosalie Craig (who was also the best thing about Jermyn Street’s ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ recently) as Guilietta. The rest of the cast has little to do, so perhaps they should have worked more on their French pronunciation (there’s a fair bit of spoken / sung French) which was truly dreadful.

The usually talented David Farley has over-designed it and it comes out tacky. Given the number of scenes, locations and periods, it would have been much better to follow a more minimalist approach.

All in all, I’m afraid it left me completely cold – and it was a very long 2 hrs 45 mins; thank god for the new seats and a bit of portable aircon! Give it a miss and wait for the real thing when it transfers from Chichester to the West End – Howard Goodall’s Love Story.

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