Threepenny Opera, National Theatre

The_Threepenny_OperaJohn Gay started it, Bertold Brecht politicised it, and right now Dougal Irvine has smartly contemporised it in rhyming couplets. But beggars or buskers aside there’s only one Kurt Weill score – insidiously catchy down to its last quaver – and over at the National Theatre they’ve even thrown in “Surabaya Johnny” for good measure. … [Read More]

Sunset Boulevard, London Coliseum

sunset-boulevard-3At a time in musical theatre when you never quite know what you are hearing when the band strikes up, seeing was believing that on the stage of the Coliseum there were strings aplenty, horns, bassoons, trumpets, a randy sax and much else that wasn’t for once “sampled”. And in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lushest score, … [Read More]

Boris Godunov, Royal Opera House

borisgudonov1503aAs one who grew up listening to what other people did to Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov – most notably the gifted gift-wrapper Rimsky-Korsakov – the seven-scene original is doubly startling in its concision and starkness. This is a piece in which what happens outside of the seven scenes becomes as important as the narrative contained within … [Read More]

Mrs Henderson Presents, Noel Coward Theatre

Mrs-Henderson-Presents-Noel-Coward-Theatre-1013-700x455The old gags are the best, they say – or just the oldest – and in this hugely enjoyable adaptation of the movie Mrs Henderson Presents they come thick and fast from the mouth of the show’s very own Emcee Arthur (Jamie Foreman) who steers us through good times and bad, through blitz and all-clears, … [Read More]

The World Goes Round, St James Studio

TWGR-SquareThe World Goes Round has been, well, going round for 25 years. The John Kander and Fred Ebb catalogue lends itself to a tight-knit review format – Cabaret and Chicago embrace that genre anyway – and the songs, even from show to show, impact on each other in interesting ways. But surely it’s time to … [Read More]

L’Etoile, Royal Opera House

L'EtoileIt’s a kind of French Mikado. In a distant and exotic kingdom a victim must be found to celebrate the King’s name-day. No little list, no W H Gilbert wit, either, but a handful of delicious tunes, most of them deftly previewed in one of operetta’s smartest overtures. Mark Elder had the orchestra skip … [Read More]

Grey Gardens, Southwark Playhouse

347526_770_previewIt’s not hard to see why Grey Gardens – the musical – has become such a collector’s item. This strange but true tale of American royalty gone rogue, of Jacqueline Kennedy’s rebellious relatives, of a stain on the Bouvier clan somehow exposing the rot at the heart of the American dream was/is irresistible. We all … [Read More]

Funny Girl, Menier Chocolate Factory

Funny Girl - Sheridan Smith (Fanny Brice) - picture by Marc BrennerIt’s hard not to invoke the B word – Barbra, that is, not Brice – and I speak as one who bunked off school to catch her at a mid-week matinee. It was standing room only at the Prince of Wales but by then she was pretty much phoning in her performance and only the … [Read More]

The Force of Destiny, London Coliseum

100613Whenever the name Calixto Bieito is mentioned it’s invariably to mention ‘the toilets’ – not the reasons for them, just the fact that they were there at all. That production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball was one of the most theatrical and exciting in English National Opera’s post-powerhouse era. It’s true that Bieito’s passion can … [Read More]

Elf, Dominion Theatre

ElfThere’s nothing wrong with Elf that a decent song or two wouldn’t help put right. Oh, wait, there is one – “Nobody Cares About Santa” – which bucks up act two no end and turns rather deliciously into a chorus line of Santas with swinging sacks. But it’s also the only moment where Matthew Sklar … [Read More]


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