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Relaxed Performance: 25th September 2023 at 7.30pm
Captioned performances: 21st October 2023 at 2.30pm, 30th October 2023 at 7.30pm
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Hear two songs from the show here.
The year is 1943 and we’re losing the war. Luckily, we’re about to gamble all our futures on a stolen corpse.
'Singin’ in the Rain' meets 'Strangers on a Train,' Noel Coward meets Noel Fielding, 'Operation Mincemeat' is the fast-paced, hilarious and unbelievable true story of the twisted secret mission that won us World War II. The question is, how did a well-dressed corpse wrong-foot Hitler?
After sold-out development runs at the New Diorama Theatre in 2019 and Southwark Playhouse in 2020, 2021 & 2022, plus an extended Riverside Studios run this summer, Operation Mincemeat transfers to the West End.
David Cumming, Claire-Marie Hall, Natasha Hodgson, Jak Malone and Zöe Roberts, the 2023 Off-West End ‘Best Musical Production’ award winning cast (Southwark Playhouse / Riverside Studios) will lead the company for this West End run. Understudies joining them are: Seán Carey, Geri Allan, Christian Andrews and Holly Sumpton. Casting details are given for information only and theatremonkey.com takes no responsibility for any alterations or non-appearance of cast members stated.
Twitter/ Instagram: @MincemeatLive @spitlip #OperationMincemeat #GodThatsBrilliant @FortuneTheatre1
Written and composed by SpitLip: David Cumming, Felix Hagan, Natasha Hodgson and Zoe Roberts.
Directed by Rob Hastie.
Choreography by Jenny Arnold.
Musical Director Joe Bunker.
Set and costume design by Ben Stones.
Lighting design by Mark Henderson.
Sound design by Mike Walker.
Orchestrator & Musical Supervisor Stephen Sidwell.
Produced by Jon Thoday for Avalon.
Casting by Pearson Casting.
Just as the Mischief Theatre Company polished a tiny play that kept going wrong in a string of small fringe venues until finally making the West End and Broadway, so SplitLip have done the same.
Five development runs, first at the plucky New Diorama Theatre who (with help from the Lowry) took up the challenge, then on to Southwark Playhouse for three sell-out seasons and a constantly extended run at the Riverside Studios last summer.
Always evolving and experimenting, the 9th May 2023 is the culmination of all those efforts. Scheduled at the time of writing to run (an already extended) season of 13 weeks to August 2023, the monkey can see absolutely no reason why it should not equal the 33 year run of its predecessor “The Woman In Black” at this theatre.
All the ingredients have been carefully mixed and re-mixed to produce this definitive version ensuring “Operation Mincemeat” is a musical cooked to perfection.
Previous versions have been refined. As co-creator David Cumming explained to the monkey after the show, the skeleton was there, but now they have put the flesh on it properly. And it is simply glorious. A serious subject delivered with hilarious wit, enormous creative verve and deeply felt humble humility.
Director Robert Hastie (“Standing at the Sky’s Edge”) has his second London triumph of the year. Alongside choreographer Jenny Arnold they have the five cast members bouncing off the furniture, walls and through the blackboard (was there always a door there?) both verbally and physically. Put another way, you’ll never be at the back of the queue again if you follow the advice here.
Ben Stones keeps true to the original simple desks (notice the side woodwork) and phone designs but parlays them into a huge World War Two Operations Room and much, much more. Mark Henderson surpasses himself with the lighting plot, taking cues from both the grid wall patterns and the latest nightclub innovations.
Best of all, Cumming, Hagan, Hodgson and Roberts have refined and refined their writing to bring every second of the show into military-sharp focus. The first act has grown even stronger with clearer storytelling and the benefit of scenery marking instantly time and place.
Issues in the uneven second act are resolved so that it now fires smoothly as a submarine torpedo, the grand finale both delighting and emotionally moving.
One-liners and anachronisms still zing like bullets. Songs are tidied throughout, a properly shaded score of rousing “Born To Lead” contrasting with “Sail, On Boy” a more personal rallying cry; and simply fun with a serious point “Spilsbury.” Not a weak number in the score.
The whole gang are also as exuberantly irreverent as ever, yet maintaining respect for subject and story.
Natasha Hodgson’s Ewen Montagu retains her bluff Lieutenant persona, broadening the character a little to allow slightly wider interaction with those Montagu is born to lead - thus revealing a little more emotionally to make the ending even more interesting.
Favourite character for many, naturalist (well, we all enjoy getting out kit off) Charles Cholmondeley is delivered with greater control by David Cumming. His comedic gifts of timing and gesture, not to mention pathos and a gentle bewilderment land always on the larger stage and audience sympathy is his for the taking.
Colonel Bevan has Zoë Roberts finding new ways to assert authority while letting us see the enormous burden of rank. A touching final scene with a loyal secretary now works even better thanks to Roberts new vulnerability.
Jak Malone as Hester Leggett still stops the show with “Dear Bill.” The practical heartbeat of the story, without whom the other characters could not function so effectively.
Acolyte lowly adjunct Jean Leslie finds in Leggett a mother figure and reassurance. Claire-Marie Hall has us on her side from the first as we recognise a fierce and tender soul with the courage of a lion who only need learn how to channel it to be heard. And she does.
There’s a further thousand words to be written about all the other characters these five play, often at the literal drop of a hat and for a single line. Space, however, and the importance of noting that you will also learn a lot about newt anatomy, suggest it better to move to the summary which should be actioned immediately – your enjoyment and that of those you love, care for and whom you call your fellow citizens depends on it. And the advice is this:
Plan to see it, then plan to see it again... and again... and again.
Standing ovation given.
A rave opinion blog from the early 2022 run at Southwark Playhouse is available here.
One of the most entertaining shows I've ever seen. Utterly amazing how just 5 actors play about 30 parts. Worth the ticket price just to hear Hester Leggett's song about writing a letter to a soldier. A definition of the word 'showstopper' if ever there was one !
Stalls H2: “Operation Mincemeat” (May 2023), (Broadway John). Loads of legroom! Seats are offset but there is very little rake. Good view although heads are occasionally in the way a little bit, but I think that would be true of almost all of the stall seats.
My trip to Mincemeat on Saturday was only because I won the lottery. My friend wanted to see it and as it was my favourite musical this trip I went again even though I had already bought a ticket for Monday night. Had the understudy for Montagu. She was very similar to the regular actress, but I still missed her as she is my favourite in the cast. I actually didn’t enjoy it as much as I had earlier in my trip. But I was extremely sleep deprived. Thought maybe I don’t like this as much as I thought. Was regretting I had to see it again in 2 days.
Saw Mincemeat last night and the whole cast were in. Loved it again! Putting down my less enthusiastic response from Saturday night as being due to my incredible fatigue. It wasn’t the understudy from Saturday that was the problem it was no sleep. So glad I got to see this one last time before I go home.
Stalls H 15: Nice aisle seat. Good legroom. Seats offset. Would love to sit here again!
Stalls F1: The left side of the stage was sometimes blocked. The rake wasn't very good so had to look around the head in front of me some. Good legroom.
I like the plot but I would have preferred a larger cast.
And as a German I think the joke to put one finger above your lips to symbolise Hitler has been overused and is getting lamer and lamer. That used to be funny years ago but it isn't anymore.
*** from my side only because of the music.
I hadn’t seen this show during it’s beginnings as a Fringe piece, or the a-la Mischief Theatre polishing and adapting as it played smaller venues, but I am so glad I saw the final shining piece of musical theatre that is the result.
Operation Mincemeat tells the true, improbable story of one of the most leftfield and unlikely plans ever to be dreamt of, as the [SPOILER ALERT] Allies planted a dead body, mocked up as a pilot carrying ‘secret’ papers that suggest the Nazis direct their operations elsewhere, setting up a crucial invasion [SPOILER ENDS]
This is that rare thing, the perfect show: Funny, deeply moving - often switching at the drop of a hat (‘Dear Bill’ is an emotional punch to the guts that comes out of nowhere, there were tears flowing openly and the five-minute ovation was thoroughly deserved).
It’s full of nice touches - even the programme joins in (bottom left hand corner has coordinates… they’re the coordinates for the Fortune Theatre).
The script has been polished to perfection, every song slots in perfectly and sets a scene, the hugely talented cast switch roles and personas at the drop of a hat. The pace is relentless, never once is there a dip in quality. Every joke hits it’s target right on the bullseye.
Set and lighting combine to create, often with seemingly simple adjustments of props and lights, a world of different locations. And they know when to bring on the pizzazz and when to strip it back - there is one short, almost throwaway scene at the end that piles on the glitz and glamour that must have taken so much time and effort to set up, but sets the punchline to an earlier gag so it’s worth every second.
The previous occupant of The Fortune Theatre made it it’s home for 33 years. This show could easily match if not beat that record. There are many that have seen Operation Mincemeat over 30 times. It’s the most improbable show about the most implausible true story… and it’s pure musical perfection. Do yourself a favour, see it, then visit again and seek out all the things you missed the first time around, with a Sangria of course.
The monkey advises checking performance times on your tickets and that performances are happening as scheduled, before travelling.
Until 4th November 2023
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 3pm and 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 8pm
Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 3pm and 8pm
From 6th November 2023
Monday at 7.30pm
Tuesday at 3pm and 7.30pm
Wednesday at 7.30pm
Thursday at 7.30pm
Friday at 7.30pm
Saturday at 3pm and 8pm
Runs 2 hours 20 minutes approximately.
Theatres use "dynamic pricing." Seat prices change according to demand for a particular performance. Prices below were compiled as booking originally opened. Current prices are advised at time of enquiry.
Note that standing places at the back of the upper circle may be sold online at a low price at some performances. See www.atgtickets.com for details.
From 13th November 2023 onwards: Monday Evening tickets can only be purchased by those signed up to the "Operation Mincemeat" Email List at https://www.operationmincemeat.com/mailing-list.
Online Ticket Lottery at www.operationmincemeat.com/lottery.
A chance to win the right to buy two full price tickets for £25 each for Wednesday to Saturday performances. Entries can be made at any time for any performances within a two-week period. A draw is made every second Monday (Friday, if the Monday is a public holiday) at 2pm for the following two weeks. Winners will be notified by email and will have 24 hours from then to book the actual tickets. Seat location is at venue discretion. If you have access requirements, you can still enter the draw, and choose seats. Then email the box office, who will move your seats to more appropriate ones to match your needs.