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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Martland’

This is the London premiere of a Rogers & Hammerstein show, one based on a John Steinbeck novel no less, for which we owe the Union Theatre a debt of gratitude. It came after Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific and The King & I but before The Sound of Music. It was a huge flop.

The setting brings together the world of a brothel, a man’s doss house and a marine biologist (!) in Monterey’s Cannery Row in California. New-girl-in-town Suzy is ‘adopted’ by brothel madam Fauna and a love story develops between Suzy and Doc, the marine biologist. That’s about it, really – and that’s its problem; an extraordinarily slight story. There are some nice tunes, but nowhere near enough to redeem what is in reality a turkey from the most unlikely of sources. How on earth did it even get to Broadway in 1955?!

Sasha Regan has done her best with such material, with an evocative setting by Elle-Rose Peake. The few choruses are stirring, with fine choreography by Lizzi Gee, and there are outstanding performances from Kieran Brown as Doc ad Virge Gilchrist as Fauna, and good turns in smaller roles from David Haydn and Nick Martland. My one quibble with the production is that the keyboard / percussion duo are musically underpowered.

Whatever you think of the show, though, it’s a must-see for musical theatre completists like me who want to see all of the work of the great masters, not just endless revivals of their hits like The Sound of Music, currently revived at the Open Air Theatre less than five years aft it closed at the London Paladium.

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