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Posts Tagged ‘Kendra McMillan’

The last time I saw this show, it had the resources of Opera North – probably enough to run this fringe venue for a decade – and tickets were four times as much. Big budgets don’t always result in the best shows though and I enjoyed this production a lot more – perhaps the best this enterprising venue has (so far) given.

Kurt Weill’s score only has one real standard – Speak Low – but it’s a consistently good score, and here it’s beautifully played by MD Aaron Clingham on his baby grand (in the room this time, thank goodness!) and beautifully sung (unamplified) by an exceptional cast.

The story is a bit daft. An ancient lost statue of Venus ends up in a New York gallery where it is kissed by a drunken man, comes alive and they fall in love. Rodney is already engaged (bring on dumped fiancée with screechy voice and stroppy mom) so Venus makes her disappear. It takes a farcical turn as Gloria’s mum wants justice and the gods want Venus back.

Sarah June Mills has created an excellent modern art gallery with paintings that are more than they seem. Lydia Milman Schmidt’s staging is excellent and choreographer Rhiannon Faith manages to create a superb second act  ‘ballet’ in this tiny space. The production values are very high for the fringe and a lot higher than we’ve seen at Ye Olde Rose & Crown before.

The ensemble is outstanding and the leads are great. Kendra McMillan is appropriately statuesque and other-worldly as Venus and David Jay-Douglas captures the naivety of lovestruck Rodney. The world of modern art is brilliantly represented by James Wolstenholme’s gallery owner Savory and his protective secretary Molly; a fine performance from Danielle Morris.

Weill was unique amongst the composers of Broadway’s golden age (well, as a man from decadent Berlin escaping the Nazi’s, he would be wouldn’t he!) and his shows are distinctive because they are not formulaic; each one tells a different story differently. We don’t have revivals anywhere near often enough and this outstanding production is very welcome. Don’t miss!

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