THERE aren’t many roles out there as coveted by anyone who would call themselves a straight actress as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire”. It is a meaty challenge to portray the complex back story of a deeply insecure woman who horrifically lost her love and who then seeks solace in the arms of “many men”, but to also successfully bring in the role’s cutting cruelty is not an easy task and indeed the road to the theatre is littered with the bodies of many who have tried and failed.
FORTY years after it was first conceived, this slightly amended and beautifully staged revival is proof, if proof were ever needed, that Noel Coward had considerably more than just ‘a talent to amuse’.
THE spontaneous full-house standing ovation that this production received tonight, Thursday, has apparently happened all week and is likely to continue to do so until the end of the run on Saturday. Yes, the show is well-known, albeit very rooted in its 1970s beginnings, musically speaking, and there can be no-one who is unaware of its powerful story - but, unless I’m very much mistaken, those ovations are for one of the best local theatre productions the area has ever seen
PATIENCE… Patience… I vividly remember these words being re-iterated to me while I was growing up. It is a ‘state of endurance without reacting to provocation’. This is a perfect assessment of the plot to Gilbert & Sullivan’s sixth collaboration, which is characterized by everyone waiting for everyone else to realize that what they want is right there before them: the Soldiers are waiting for the Ladies to turn away from the poets; Lady Jane is waiting for someone to sweep her off her feet; Grosvenor is waiting for Patience to realize he’s not perfect; and Bunthorne is waiting for… well, something.
IF you were to ask me if I liked this play I would have to reply in the negative, and in all honesty I cannot see how anyone could actually like something that deals with such a squalid part of life. However, if you were to ask me if I enjoyed this particular production my answer would very definitely be in the affirmative.
THE Bible has proved a rich seam for writers of smash musicals: ‘Joseph’, ‘Godspell’, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, for example. These take the scriptures as a starting-point and develop from there but ‘The Birth of a King’ is in a different category, not because it lacks the potential to be a hit but because it sticks faithfully to the story as told in the Gospels, often using the exact words. Although marrying the familiar Christmas story to a thoroughly modern score seems like an exciting, obvious idea, it is also risky enough to have deterred – presumably – the Lloyd Webbers and the Schönbergs of the musical world. Yet ‘The Birth of a King’ rises to the challenge and maybe, just maybe, has the potential to become a classic.
LISTENING to Lehar’s gorgeous music is rather like swimming in a bath of warm honey, which could be either a delightful experience or rather an unpleasant one, depending on the temperature and the quality of the honey. Both the temperature and the quality of this performance of ‘The Merry Widow’ meant that it was an experience not only delightful but truly memorable. The principals were without exception outstanding, and most of the chorus were drawn from the P&P Singers, whose deserved reputation as one of the best choirs around can only be enhanced by this latest offering.