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Posts Tagged ‘John Addison’

Why on earth has it taken 20 years for this unlikely Broadway hit musical by Cy Coleman and Ira Gasman to reach London? Like Guys & Dolls decades before it, The Life places NYC street-life centre stage, but it’s not the lovable rogues of the 50’s, it’s the prostitutes and their parasitic pimps of the 90’s. I was bowled over by it. Time to open another superlatives box.

Memphis runs most of the girls on these particular blocks, except Queen, whose small-time ex-military druggie boyfriend Fleetwood purports to be her pimp. JoJo has higher aspirations, recruiting girls for a Californian porn mogul; though his latest NYC newcomer Mary isn’t as innocent as she seems. Long-time pro Sonja is the godmother of the girls. Memphis is determined to add Queen to his roster at all costs and the show turns very dark when he seeks to implement his plan.

Like The Wild Party recently at The Other Palace, it’s a raunchy jazzy score packed with showstoppers that showcase just about everyone of the 16-strong cast, and what a cast Ann Vosser has assembled. Long time favourite Sharon D Clarke is on sparkling form, totally inhabiting the role of Sonja, with stunning vocals that seem effortless. T’Shan Williams is less known to me and she’s simply terrific as Queen; a real find. Cornell S John has huge presence and to say he’s easy to loathe is a compliment to his characterisation of Memphis. David Albury, excellent in the Union Theatre’s Love Story, excels in a very different role here as Fleetwood. Joanna Woodward navigates her character Mary from seemingly naïve new arrival to wannabe porn start well, again with fine vocals. John Addison’s JoJo is a cool but oily chancer; another great characterisation. There a faultless supporting cast and a sensational 11-piece band under Tamara Saringer.

It’s a long evening, but for me it sustained its length. I left the theatre on a high and I was still on it the following day. Unmissable stuff.

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This chamber musical is a new spin on the love triangle. When advertising executive Tom and his wife Lucy, both unfaithful, split over Lucy’s affair with a bohemian artist things take an extraordinary turn. Tom at first stalks the artist, then becomes his flat-mate, then his friend. To say more would be to spoil the fun; suffice to say it turns full circle in a rather satisfying if implausible way – well, it is a musical, after all.

Jimmy Roberts’ score is somewhat Sondheimesque and for me (this may sound odd) has a little too much music, which makes it feel a bit ‘stuffed’; this isn’t at the expense of narrative or character development though and there are some nice songs. The good book and sharp witty lyrics are by Joe DiPietro, who wrote the very funny book for Nice Work If You Can Get It, which I saw last month in new York. It’s perhaps overly slick in that way American shows often can be to British sensibilities, but even so there’s a satisfying roundness to it all.

Andrew Keates excellent staging, on a functional but elegant set by Martin Thomas, has its tongue in its cheek. It zips along and characters sometimes appear to come from nowhere. The chorus of two, who play all 24 other roles, is a great device and in the hands of Steven Webb and Lucyelle Cliffe, is far from a supporting feature. Webb in particular relishes every cameo and many of these were the highlight of the evening, most particularly his one-man double-act as both the French maitre ‘d and American server in a poncy restaurant.

Peter Gerald is very good as an arrogant philandering ad man who becomes more humble, even nice,  as the story unfolds. Kate Graham was in particularly fine voice as lovestruck but-not-as-innocent-as-she-seems Lucy. John Addison’s opposite journey from laid back bohemian to sold-out for love was well played. There’s a lovely three-piece band (piano, cello and reeds) who’s gentle playing enable you to hear every word without the harshness of amplification.

This is a fun evening – a clever show expertly staged and performed; something we’re getting used to at the Landor.

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Fringe powerhouse The Finborough Theatre and one-man musicals machine Thom Sutherland have teamed up again to give us another European premiere of a Rogers & Hammerstein show that proves to be even more of a delight than State Fair.

It’s got nothing to do with Shakespeare’s R&J; it’s a simple onstage-backstage love story, but you get a real baddie and a second love story for your money. Clearly it’s not in the Oklahoma / South Pacific league, but it’s a decent show and therefore astonishing that it’s taken 27 years to be seen here. It didn’t take long to sweep me away.

Designer Alex Marker has cleverly reversed the usual theatre configuration and integrated both audience and cast entrance doors and the spaces above them into the set. There’s some terrific staging, including scenes of the show-within-the-show lighting men from both above the stage and looking down from the stage which are inspired, and there’s a brilliant surprise entrance. The chorus numbers are delicious Busby Berkley miniatures staged with tongue slightly in cheek looking back 50 years very affectionately.

The singing and acting are first class. Laura Main and Robert Hands are great romantic leads. John Addison was so menacing he brought a believability to the bad-guy character which could easily have been a caricature.  Jodie Jacobs was so spot in every way she could have time-travelled from the 50’s for the evening. Dafydd Gwyn Howells (wonder where he’s from?!) and Anthony Wise also impressed as Company Manager and Lighting Man respectively. The musical standards are outstanding with MD Joseph Atkins alone playing the whole score on his upright piano.

Charming and irresistible, I hope that, like State Fair, it gets a second outing . We’re so lucky to have theatres like the Finborough, Landor and Union putting on musical productions of this quality and people like Thom Sutherland to present us with opportunities to see rare gems like this. I’d say GO GO GO, but it’s probably sold out by now!

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