Posts Tagged ‘Kingsley Hall’

It’s beginning to look like the Union Theatre’s all-male Gilbert & Sullivan’s are going to become as permanent a feature as Propeller’s all-male Shakespeare’s. This one is the fourth and the best!

The material itself is even more suited to the concept than it’s predecessors The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance and Iolanthe. A satire on 19th century aestheticism featuring the rivalry between Grosvenor and Bunthorne for the heart of milkmaid Patience, whilst  a bunch of infatuated Lady’s and maiden’s swoon, pout and sigh, ignoring the attentions of a bunch of dragoons seeking to court and marry them!

Stiofan O’Doherty and Dominic Brewer are perfect as the vain effete aesthetes wrapped up in a world of poetry and beauty. Edward Charles Bernstone is a delight as (s)he moves back and forth between her two suitors. The dragoons are cartoon soldiers, clumsy & naive but lovable, in their tweed jackets, bowler hats, black boots and big belts. The Lady’s Jane, Angela, Saphir and Ella are all brilliantly played by Sean Quigley, James Lacey, Mark Gillon and Matthew Marwick, each a different personality, and the maidens (some doubling up as dragoons) glide along the stage in flower print frocks and cardies, brilliantly choreographed by Drew McOnie.

The musical standards are extraordinary (how do you find that many men who can sing that high?!) and the performances beyond charming. Kingsley Hall’s design is inspired. Even MD Richard Bates, who plays the whole score heroically on a solo piano, dons a frock! I smiled from beginning to end of this faultless production by Sasha Regan – and I’m not even a G&S fan! 

If you like musical theatre and you don’t like this, you’ll need therapy. GO!

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The mediocrity of the reviews and the indifference of the bloggers meant I wasn’t really looking forward to this, which might have contributed to how much I enjoyed it!

It’s true that it’s not a great show – with an undistinguished score and a particularly disappointing downbeat ending – but I thought Paul Taylor-Mills production was terrific,  making the most of the material with bucket loads of energy and an infectious enthusiasm. I smiled and laughed an awful lot.

The story of how the ‘chicken ranch’ is hounded out of business by a hypocritical alliance of church, media and politicians (nothing changes!) is well-known and of course the ladies are the sympathetic characters and the politicians and media the baddies.

Kingsley Hall’s simple set of American flag painted walls (with band costumes to match) and a trio of beds is effective enough, but it’s his excellent costumes which make the show look so good. Richard Jones’ choreography sparkles with wit and invention and the set pieces  are electrifying.

I thought Sarah Lark would be too young and too sweet for Miss Mona, but that’s not so – she’s very good indeed, particularly in the singing department. There’s a brilliantly funny sheriff from James Parkes and an outrageous (though in truth a bit over-the-top) turn from Leon Craig as the TV man who leads the pack of persecutors. I also much enjoyed Lindsay Scigliano as Doatsey Mae and Jodie Lee Wilde as Dawn. In fact, the whole cast (including the now mandatory Strallen!) is terrific, with the ensemble numbers the high spots of the show.

Maybe it’s improved during the run, but for me it was about as much fun as you can have on a Sunday evening with your cloths on. Only one week left to see for yourself.



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