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Posts Tagged ‘Dominion Theatre’

Well it won’t win any awards for subtlety! It was apparently always meant to be a musical, well spectacle come rock concert really, originally called Neverland, a modern day Peter Pan featuring ‘The Lost’ and a character called Tink, but for 40 years it was just an album by Meat Loaf which sold 43 million copies (3 of them in the UK, in the charts for 1.5 years) leading to two sequels.

The evil Falco Corporation is pitted against The Lost, but it’s CEO’s daughter is in love with Strat, their leader. As far as story goes, that’s about it, I’m afraid, even flimsier than the Dominion’s previous long-term occupant We Will Rock You. I was surprised to find power ballads predominated over rock songs, most of which were executed well, backed by a fine band. Jon Bausor’s extraordinary design, with projections by Finn Ross, fills the stage and indeed the vast Dominion auditorium to great effect; this is probably the best thing about it. It’s very well staged by Jay Scheib, but the choreography is vanilla pop video.

There’s a lot of talent on stage, but the performing style is uniformly over-the-top, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, everything exaggerated and, well, BIG. I enjoyed the spectacle and admired the execution, but I felt starved of story and I over-dosed on power ballads and pop video dancing. If you’re one of the 5% of the UK population that appears to own the album and you like your shows like rock concerts, it may be for you. I’m glad I waited for the cheap deal.

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How many producers and associate producers does it take to get a screen to stage adaptation onto a West End stage? Fifty-one! That’s about the same number as the total of performers and musicians combined. Do they each have their own producer?

Though it is new to the stage this, like the 1951 film on which it is based, recycles Gershwin songs like I Got Rhythm, The Man I Love and But Not For Me from stage musicals Girl Crazy and Lady Be Good 20-30 years before the film, songs from other Gershwin film musicals like Funny Face, plus piano concertos & preludes, rhapsodies and symphonic poems! Gershwin may have been the first real crossover composer and this may well be the ultimate mash-up!

Set at the end of the Second World War in Paris, obviously, it tells the story of two American GI’s who decide to stay, musician Adam Hochberg and artist Jerry Mulligan. Adam’s new Parisian friend Henri Baurel is a wannabe performer expected to continue the family business. His family have protected young Jewish girl Lise Dassin during the occupation and now she seems to feel she owes Henri her heart, though she’s fallen for Jerry (and Adam for her). All three end up involved in a new ballet – Lise dancing, Jerry designing and Adam writing the score, after which Lise is forced to choose and Henri get’s ‘outed’ to his parents.

It pulls all (both) of its punches in the second half with an extraordinary scene where a Paris jazz club transforms into NYC’s Radio City Music Hall and back again, and the ballet itself, though the opening transition from occupation to liberation is brilliantly staged too. I liked the rest, but it didn’t blow me away like the reviews and recommendations predicted. Despite all the exceptional components – good story and great score, Bob Crowley’s modern art inspired design with projections that make scene changes simply flow, Christopher Wheeldon’s light-as-air staging and choreography, a great orchestra under John Rigby (which sounded a lot more than fourteen) and a fine set of performances – it only occasionally swept me away. At times, I felt I was in a musical theatre museum admiring but not emotionally engaged with the show. Some of the French accents were a bit dodgy too!

For a ballet dancer, Robert Fairchild is a damn good singer as well as an exciting dancer; he stole the show for me. Fellow ballet dancer Leanne Cope was terrific too in her mostly dancing role, and David Seadon-Young was excellent as Adam. There’s a lovely cameo from Jane Asher as Henri’s stern mum, looking decades younger than her true age. I can’t fault the show, but it didn’t captivate me as I thought it would. Too big a theatre (and a stuffy one too)? An off night for me? Over-hyped? Who knows?…….but don’t let me put you off.

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