(seen at the preview performance on 25th April 2012). This review does refer
to some actors who have now left the cast.
Six Star Smash Hit. Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen are explosive together,
whether dancing cheek to cheek or just miscommunicating via corny one-liners
in this oldest fashioned of old fashioned musical nights out. So old fashioned,
the audience feels itself in danger of turning monochrome, with the venue décor
adding to the atmosphere.
Classic Berlin numbers from a generous 14 piece orchestra. Dynamite big dance
numbers all tap-dancing, canes and chorus girls. Gorgeous gowns for all the
ladies, suitable Evening Dress (the monkey will resist describing it as white
tie and tails, oops!) for the gentlemen, and nothing whatsoever that offends
That isnt to say there arent some risqué period lines and amusingly wry
observations made. Theres also a Charlie Hawtree turn by an indefatigable comic
Stephen Boswell, and a borderline insane one from Ricardo Afonso.
A mention for Martin Ball and Vivien Parry as the other named couple in the
show (though for how much longer, with the show stealer Outside Of That I Love
You). This night, though, belongs to Tom and Summer Jerry and Dale and
their happy ending is the satisfying result of the chemistry they keep fizzing
Nods must also go to those staging this. Director Matthew White and designer
Hildegard Bechtler solve every cinematic to stage moment transfer problem with
aplomb, an exquisite mirror sequence in act one a particular highlight. Jon
Morrell meanwhile has probably sewn security tags into the costumes, otherwise
they are going to go missing whenever theres a party.
The only cloud in the sky is that the monkey wonders whether the show has
opened a mere 30 years too late. In the 1980s this would have been an instant
sell out. That generations theatregoers were familiar with both the film and
that wonderful style of theatricality, the delectable slow-burner. The monkey
wondered if anything could be cut to speed it up, then realised the sedate pace
is perfect as it is and is part of the charm.
For the younger generation, its an abject lesson in how to sustain a show on
pure dance and gentle laughter alone... Whether modern audiences (a very young
couple near the monkey were palpably bored with the whole thing and disturbed
those around it to prove it) will get it and grant it the long run it
deserves, the monkey doesnt know and can only hope.
Still, if your idea of a great afternoon in is (like the monkeys) snuggling
under a quilt with a large box of chocolates and an ancient sepia golden-age
movie musical on TV, this is for you. Everybody else should also go, and find
out how a traditional show should really be done.