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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Clark’

I haven’t read Erich Segal’s book and I never saw the film, but I fell in love with this Howard Goodall / Stephen Clark musical adaptation when I first saw it at the Minerva Theatre in Chichester and then invested in its West End transfer. This first London revival proves that a show as good as this only needs fine performers and musicians, which is exactly what director Sasha Regan has for her simple, delicate and moving production.

We follow Oliver & Jenny’s relationship from their first meeting (confrontation!) through his hockey games, her piano recitals, meeting the respective parents, their wedding and first apartment. Jenny’s widowed dad worships and supports her; in contrast, Oliver becomes estranged from his dad. Her diagnosis with leukaemia tears their world apart and we watch her die in his arms. It’s beautifully framed by scenes at her funeral.

Victoria Serra is wonderful as the spiky, feisty, fiercely independent Jenny and David Albury is equally good as stubborn but loving Oliver, besotted with her. They have great chemistry together, like Emma Williams & Michael Xavier in the original production, which is so crucial in this story. It’s a faultless supporting cast, with Neil Stewart giving a particularly moving performance as Jenny’s dad Phil. The band seems to have lost its violin, but the score sounds great from the trio of piano, guitar & cello under MD Inga Davis-Rutter. It really is beautifully sung. No room for, and no need of, anything but a few props and excellent lighting to provide the perfect intimate setting for this most intimate of shows.

I was devastated to be out of the country for the whole run of The Dreaming, but delighted to see this and now excited to see the forthcoming (and very underrated) Girlfriends. Britain’s greatest living composer of musicals getting a long deserved season of three revivals. Yippee!

 

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A day trip to sunny Chichester. Laughter and tears – the perfect combination. Bliss!

Yes, Prime Minister has been updated – VERY updated, with references to coalitions and hung parliaments – by writers Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn (who also directs), but retains much of what made the TV series one of the very best comedies ever to grace our screens. The references may now be climate change, economic crises and the euro, but the intrigue and manipulations are just the same and Sir Humphrey’s soliloquies are masterpieces of verbose obfuscation!

Britain holds the presidency of the EU during a climate change summit and is close to brokering a deal when the Kumranistan foreign secretary makes personal demands that are morally difficult for the British to concede. On stage it’s rather broader and closer to farce than the knowingness and subtlety on TV, probably because the medium (and particularly a big theatre) requires this. However, it survives and provides lots of politically incorrect laughs.

David Haig, Henry Goodman and Jonathan Slinger make the characters of PM Jim Hacker, Sir Humphrey and Bernard their own. The ‘Special Advisor’ is more prominent (as she should be in 2010) and the appearance of the BBC DG facilitates a whole bucketful of cheeky satirical swipes at the organisation which gave us the TV series in the first place. 

I’ll be surprised if this isn’t in the West End before the summer’s out. Great fun!

I must be one of the few people who never saw the film (or read the book) of Love Story but it seems to me it could have originated as a musical, so comfortable is the story framed in this new show from Howard Goodall and Stephen Clark . Goodall’s music is simply gorgeous, his best score since The Hired Man, and Clark’s book and lyrics convey the all too short love with an intensity and humour that moved me from laughter to tears but ultimately left me uplifted. Goodall’s own orchestrations for piano, acoustic guitar and string quintet are beautiful and singing is crystal clear.

Rachel Kavanaugh directs with a deftness and elegance on a simple white set. With the audience on three sides, there are occasions when your sight lines and audibility are challenged, but not enough to damage your enjoyment.

Emma Williams and Michel Xavier are excellent as the young couple. Williams, in particular, delivers her self-deprecating New York humour wittily and believably. The rest of the small cast of ten give very good support in a variety of roles and as a chorus.

This was a glorious 100 minutes. I can’t wait to hear the music again. If there’s any justice, it won’t end its life in Chichester and wherever it goes, I’ll be following.

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