Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Victoria Serra’

This is the third year The Mill at Sonning have put a big musical on their small stage, striking gold yet again. It’s amazing how quickly traditions can be established and these shows are already firm seasonal favourites; I now can’t imagine a Christmas without them.

I’ve got a very soft spot for this tale of gamblers, showgirls and the Salvation Army on the streets of 50’s New York City, with a brief visit to the playground that was pre-Castro Cuba. My love of it started at Bristol Old Vic in the 70’s, confirmed by three visits to the iconic NT production in 1982, 1990 & 1996, two to the 2005 Donmar West End revival, the 2015 Chichester production both there and in London, a fine production on the fringe Upstairs at the Gatehouse, in GSMD & LAMDA drama schools and at Wandsworth Prison! It always brings me joy.

The strengths of Joseph Pitcher’s production are the outstanding cast, exceptional musical standards and thrillingly staged scenes in Havana and the sewers of New York. In the opening scene it struggles to conjure the street-life of New York City, but it quickly grows and draws you in to the world of lovable rogues, earnest missionaries and seemingly hopeless relationships. Showstoppers like Luck Be a Lady and Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat sit alongside comic gems A Bushel and a Peck and Take Back Your Mink and romantic ballads I’ll Know and I’ve Never Been in Love Before. I loved the curtain call with the entire cast dressed in Salvation Army uniform with tambourines.

Stephane Anelli makes a great commitment-phobic Nathan, desperate for a venue for his game, bullied by Big Jule from Chicago when he gets one. Natalie Hope is outstanding as Adelaide, capturing her indefatigable devotion to Nathan, great at both the comedy and the naivety, with a spot-on accent. Victoria Serra excels at the earnestness, drunken dancing and helpless infatuation of Sarah, singing beautifully. Richard Carson has a commanding presence as expert gambler Sky and genuine passion in his pursuit of Sarah. Four fine leads and an excellent supporting cast.

I’m now looking forward to what they dish up in Sonning next year, and to my next Guys & Dolls, wherever that might be.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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!

 

Read Full Post »