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Posts Tagged ‘Gene David Kirk’

A musical comedy set in 30’s London & Paris in the style of the period (Noel Coward, Ivor Novello) but where no-one bats an eyelid at same-sex relationships and marriage! Clever.

American journalist and playboy Casey O’Brien misses the story of Edward & Mrs Simpson, so instead chases the story of the forthcoming marriage of American millionaire Clarence Cutler to British Aristocrat Guy Rose, but in doing so he falls for Guy himself. If this was covert rather than overt, you really could be watching an undiscovered Ivor Novello show.

In addition to scenes in iconic 30’s London locations – the Savoy, The Dorchester – we also go to Paris where Guy’s aunt Josephine, black sheep of the family, is a racy entertainer at Les Folies, where Guy briefly entertains too. Casey gets his man and we end at the wedding.

It’s a great score and a good book and Gene David Kirk’s staging in the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre is nothing short of miraculous, as is Lee Proud’s brilliant choreography (including a tap-dancing bell-boy who brings the house down). Alice Walkling’s superb design enables them to create a hotel bedroom, church, restaurant, bar, club, station, dressing room and theatre and occupy them with 13 actors dancing in a space not much bigger than my living room!

Stephen Ashfield is excellent – and in great voice – as Casey, with a realistic American accent that no doubt benefits from his period in Jersey Boys. Ben Kavanagh has superb comic timing and gets more laughs from Clarence’s lines than are probably there on paper. Craig Fletcher makes a great transformation from geek to hunk by just removing his specs and rearranging his hair.

It was written in 1975 by Americans Bill Solly and Donald Ward and ran off-Broadway but not even Wikipedia can shed more light, so a huge thank you to MD Stefan Bednarczyk for buying the record and persisting for 27 years to bring this delightful show to us.

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I never got to see this, the second of the Tennessee Williams world premieres at the Cock Tavern, before they were closed down, so it was good news that it was picked up by Jermyn Street Theatre (well, the play’s director is their Artistic Director!).

It’s another short, late play with a similar surreal quality. A mother is leaving her daughter with a sitter so that she and her friend can go out with escorts (from the agency that gives the play its title). The sitter reluctantly takes the job even though she thought she was sitting for a child not someone who is ‘mental’ but rebels and leaves before the adults return. The girl sees an apparition of ballet dancer Nijinsky who comes alive on stage and they talk. The adults return to daughter alone, who proceeds to call the agency and head off for an assignation of her own. This is all apparently a snipe at TW’s mother, who famously had his mentally ill sister lobotomized, with references to his earlier play The Glass Menagerie, though if I hadn’t read this in the programme, it would have gone right over my head!

It’s a curiosity rather than a good play, but it has been given a superb production by Gene David Kirk and Cherry Truluck’s design is outstanding given the size of the theatre. The cast of five are all good, with actor Sam Marks acquitting himself well in the dancing department. It’s a great opportunity to see this intriguing unproduced piece; well done to both the (late) Cock Tavern Theatre and Jermyn Street Theatre.

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