Posts Tagged ‘Rob Gildon’

Sugar is the 1972 stage musical adaptation of the 1959 film ‘Some Like It Hot’ – if you haven’t seen the film, your life is incomplete so you’d better get the DVD sharpish! It didn’t get its UK stage premiere until 1992 and I don’t think it has been seen since. It takes the enterprising and unfunded Pimlico Opera, whose work with prisoners is now in its 11th year, to present us with the opportunity to see what its like on stage.

This was my fifth time in prison – twice before with Pimlico opera in Wandsworth prison for Guys & Dolls and Carmen – but the first in a women’s prison. On this occasion, the chorus of c.20 and some of the backstage staff are prisoners; the four leads and two male dancers are professionals. Reading the self-written biographies breaks your heart and the prisoner thank you speech at the end brings you to tears. This is much more than a worthy project, it shines a light into broken lives, bringing just a glimmer of hope for a few weeks.

Peter Stone’s book, based on Billy Wilder & I.A.L Diamond’s screenplay, is faithful to the film and very funny. Jules Styne’s score and Bob Merrill’s lyrics aren’t great, which is presumably why it isn’t often revived, but its good enough. The story of course is of a couple of musicians who innocently witness a Chicago gangster crime and go on the run to escape their elimination. Disguised as women, they join an all-girl big band on tour. One falls for the singer and one bags a millionaire and it all ends happily (if somewhat bizarrely). Delightfully preposterous! The traverse staging has the band at one end and the beach at the other with other scenes played in-between.

It must be hard to step into the shoes of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon, but Victoria Ward, Duncan Patrick and Rob Gildon do it very well indeed. Deryck Hamon is also good as Sir Osgood Fielding. The prisoners play all of the other roles – male and female – and do so with considerable enthusiasm and energy; I was particularly impressed by the confidence and stage presence of Gaillene Young (AKA Ella!) as band-leader Sweet Sue, who stood in at short notice when the original Sweet Sue was released! The 17-piece professional big band under Toby Purser make a glorious sound.

Any thought that you were in a real theatre was dispelled at the curtain call with the announcement ‘please stay in your seats whilst we check we’ve got all the cast back’!

It’s running again next weekend if you fancy a spell in prison (and if there are tickets left – http://www.grangeparkopera.co.uk) – go on, it’s fun!

Read Full Post »