Posts Tagged ‘Union Theatre’

Review – Hello Again – The Union Theater

September 8, 2019

I’ll say this for Schnitzler’s “La Ronde” – there are a million different ways to slice it on stage. Michael John La Chiusa has turned it into a musical, following the original’s form of “each scene being about a couple, the next scene featuring one person from the previous scene and one new person,” even going so far as to mirror the cast of characters – the sex worker, the soldier etc., ending with the sex worker … although Schnitzler has taken some liberties, such has making the poet a writer and the count a senator … but really, it is a very close parallel to the original work. This is the show, “Hello Again,” that is currently on stage at the Union Theatre.

Stylistically, though, with this framework in place, the music and settings off each piece are hugely varied, almost as if it were intended to be a sourcebook for examples of many different styles (rather in the way Chicago played on the different sort of vaudeville acts). Together it adds up to a fantastic showcase for the cast (although the changes in times from World War I to the Sixties and the Seventies did leave my head spinning). And the sexual encounters, while not involving nudity, did manage to get some real electricity going on stage – especially fun in the scene with the nurse seducing her (hopeful) charge. The heat on stage even seemed to hit the fire monitoring system, as we were forced to leave due to an unruly alarm mistaking smoke for actual danger.

Of the cast, my favorite for pure musical joy was Ellen O’Grady, who opened and closed the piece with a warm, winning voice that spoke to me of years on the stage. It seemed almost a shame to have so many people in the cast – in that it seemed a waste to only have each of them in two numbers! I mean, come on, we got to the seventies, where was the orgy? At least we got to have some same sex scenes, both in a scene set in the early 20th century and one hitting the drugs-and-disco era.

Overall, though, I didn’t find this show blew me away, in part because the episodic nature of the text made it hard to build dramatic tension, narrative, or character. It’s a problem shared by the original to be sure. Still, as a night of showcase moments, it was pleasant enough and adds a good balance to the hardcore musical or theater goer’s diet.

(This review is for opening night, which took place on Friday, August 20th, 2019. It continues through September 21st.)

Review – Lucky Stiff – Union Theatre

October 3, 2017

While death and comedy seem to have little in common, there have been more than a few occasions where the presence of a corpse has livened up (see what I did there?) a work of fiction. The classic is William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying – but it’s hardly a comedy. No, you’d have to go to the heights (or depths) of musical theater to find a dead body that adds laughs to a show … and this is exactly what you get in Lucky Stiff, currently playing at the Union Theater. I had seen Ahrens and Flaherty’s Ragtime some years back, but that didn’t prepare me for the OUTRAGEOUS FUN of Lucky Stiff. I mean, it was like the very best Hollywood comedies – you know, the ones where you end up gasping for breath because the jokes never stop? The ones where every single actor is hamming it up so much that you barely know who to watch? Yeah, Lucky Stiff was that kind of funny – a really snappy script, brilliant actors, and then to make it even better THERE WERE A BUNCH OF SONGS. All it needed was a little tap dancing, really.

Right, so let’s recap the plot. Harry Witherspoon, dull (yet handsome, yes that’s you Tom Elliot Reade) shoe salesman, has little to look forward to in life until he comes home to discover that an American relative who he never knew has died and left him millions of dollars. The catch, though, is that he has to take his uncle’s corpse on a final visit to Monaco. With six million dollars riding on it, Witherspoon of course says yes; but what he doesn’t realize is that both a representative of the alternate inheritor (a dog shelter) is heading his way to try to trip him up, along with his uncle’s ex-girlfriend, who’s convinced the corpse has the key to the money she helped Harry’s uncle embezzle from her husband’s casino. So: Monte Carlo, a square, a corpse, a sincere young woman (Natasha Hoeberigs), and a money hungry New Jersey bimbo (Natalie Moore -Williams) whose lies have attracted the attention of the mob … kinda looks like old Harry may have bit off a bit much, huh?

As you might guess, everything starts going wrong for everybody – I mean, come on, this set up is pretty much the definition of madcap, just as much as the classic “scientist brings home chimpanzee for the weekend.” It could all seem a bit too much, but everyone, including the corpse (Ian McCurrach) throws themselves into their roles with gusto. The songs aren’t Sondheim, but they add extra bubbles to the mix and gives us some headroom to develop affection for our lead character and for him to develop … well, a romantic interest. A song comparing the loyalty of boyfriends compared to dogs? I got a bit teary!

The overall mood of the show was ebullient, and with a tight two hour running time it’s a perfect after work snack. Feel free to load up at the “prosecco on tap” bar in the foyer … a fizzy feeling is the perfect accompaniment to this frothy, giddy show.

(This review is for the opening night perfomance which took place on September 29th, 2017. The show continues through October 21st.)

Mini-review – Road Show – Phil Willmott at the Union Theater

February 23, 2016

It seems odd that the most recent musical by Sondheim (well, hardly recent: it’s been bouncing around since 2003) is making its second UK outing at a tiny venue like The Union Theater. But Road Show seems to be a troubled show with a troubled life. It’s been renamed twice, and it’s never really had a West End run.

What’s the deal, then? In fact, the musical is a bit of a mess. I mean, we start of the night with the jolt of a character coming on stage and singing, “I’m the one you fucked.” Is this all that was left, for Sondheim to choose to shock? The music, you can hear the Sondheim all the way through it, but the story … oh, the story. It’s kind of “backstage at Funny Girl,” the true story of the “lovable scoundrel” Fanny Brice married … though this is the story of two brothers of that era, one of whom gambled and swindled (and was popular – Wilson Mizner), the other of whom (Addison Mizner) was a bit of a wallflower and a failure until he takes up being an architect. The musical follows along their adventures, as well as covering their relationships with each other and their mother … and, eventually, with Addison’s lover, Hollis Bessemer. We cover a large swath of American history over the course of the evening, from the Alaskan Gold Rush to gilded age New York to land speculation in Florida …

… but it all seems to add up to nothing. The characters didn’t enchant me, the songs slipped away, the story felt as cobbled and mish-mashed as a four hundred year old English farm house. I imagined Sondheim wanted to keep some of the songs, but then let the plot get worked and reworked until there was almost nothing left, and this nothing is what we got to see. It was well sung, and the production did a lot to make the space come alive … but it all felt hollow, like Wilson Mizner’s promised investment opportunities. This show will sell out, I’m sure – it’s a must for Sondheim completists – but in its current form it simply isn’t suitable for a grander outing.

(This review is for a performance that took place on February 18th, 2016. It continues through March 5th.)

Review – Our House – Union Theater

August 27, 2015

I’m not the world’s biggest Madness fan – there were only a few songs of theirs that were played in America, mostly on MTV, and mostly on “120 Minutes” – so perhaps I wasn’t the perfect audience for seeing the Union Theater’s production of Our House, but, really, I was more than ready for a musical that addressed MY generation after seeing the flaccid Tommy at the Greenwich Playhouse and a seriously not-my-generation Sunny Afternoon back in June. The question was: would it be a jukebox musical or a story-driven show with bonus Madness songs? I was hoping for the second, but, well, what I got was mostly the first.

Now, Our House certainly has a plot, about a young man fighting to keep his family home from being bought up by a property developer (and trying to make something of his life), and while both of these strands were engaging, the playwright unfortunately chose as a framing device that the protagonist was examining the two different paths his life could take. I’m not sure how we were supposed to understand this is what happened (his dead dad comes back and talks to him a lot), but I suddenly realized that he wasn’t simultaneously working in real estate and working at a car wash. That said, I didn’t know what was real, and the cues we were being given as which thread we were following weren’t clear enough for me. His mom seemed the same in both of them, but the host of friends and his girlfriend sort of wobbled between both paths. I ended the night not entirely sure if he’d gone to prison or when, and my confusion about all of this is my primary complaint about this show. It felt all muddled, and my thinking time detracted from my enjoyment time.

That said, the cast is incredibly lively and delivers performance full of energy and brio, very nicely capturing an early eighties London feel. The dancing is silly, sexy, fun and exuberant; it’s hard not to want to leap out of your chair and join in, especially given the pure dance pros brought in to take things up a level. The effect was added to by the great performances taking place in the mostly hidden orchestra room: great job band people!

That said, the integration of songs and story didn’t quote work for me – I didn’t feel like the songs were moving the story along enough, and I wanted that kind of pure musical effect instead of just having opportunities to hear warmly remembered tunes in a friendly environment. Ah well, it was a good enough night, but I had been hoping for brilliant.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Thursday, August 20th, 2015. It continues through September 12th.)

Mini-Review – Pacific Overtures – Union Theater

July 30, 2014

It’s hardly a secret that if you enjoy excellence, tickets to see musicals at the Union Theater are money well spent. This means that they’re often sold out nearly before they start, and thanks to a lack of attention on my part, I nearly missed seeing Pacific Overtures as it was fully booked by the time I looked for ticket (a few days after it opened). I took the calculated risk that a rare outbreak of London sun might equal people who’ve suddenly decided they can’t leave the pub for an evening indoors and, behold, a weeknight ticket to this show was mine.

The cast is huge, as crammed into this, what, sixty seat space – around 20 men singing it out and doing imaginative choreography that created ships, oceans, islands and entire worlds out of fluttering fabric and a few poles. It was just so much more than you’d really expect from a low budget, low rent production, and yet, as ever, working in the Union’s restrictions resulted in a glorious Empty Space effect, in which your imagination is fully engaged by the subtle triggers on stage.

I found myself struggling with the lyrics early on – not understanding them but rather wondering if “Japan is about rice, flowers, and origami” (a summary of the lyrics for “The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea”) was really capturing the mindset of mid-seventies Americans toward this country as it’s clearly a ridiculous way to encapsulate Japan. Someone else argued that the show depicted Americans in a similarly racist tone, but I felt that showing us as bullying, swaggering, hairy brutes with bad manners wasn’t particularly out of line, especially when dealing with sailors and America’s expansionist colonial attitudes of the 19th century. However, I decided to put my meta-critical faculties on hold and see what the music and the story would bring – and I’m pleased to say that at the end the show emphasized Japan’s amazing techological accomplishments, taking the initial bad flavor away.

The story becomes more coherent as it focuses down on the low level samurai who is sent to do the impossible task of convincing the foreigners to go away. Kayama (no cast list on the Union site so can’t credit) becomes our guide to the evolution of Japan from feudal backwater to distinctive member of the modern world of nations; he starts out supporting the shogunate but ends up loving his bowler hats.

Although the story of the birth of modern Japan is interesting (though a bit tricky to simplify), what I particularly enjoyed about this show was its attempts to embrace Japanse theatrical tropes, from the all-male cast to the implied masks in the costuming and the use of bunraku-like puppets. In some ways this was all flavor, though, because there wasn’t a bit of the music or lyrics that seemed in any way Japanese – but why, really, should Sondheim not try to sound like Sondheim? Oddly, to me the “flavor” elements also seemed just very Union, the old “doing more with less” approach they usually do with such success. It made for a very good show, whatever the impetus.

In the end, I’m not sure how great a musical Pacific Overtures is, but I found it a night of wonderful, thoughtful music presented beautifully that was well worth the risk of not seeing it in order to actually see it. Now with hindsight as my guide, it’s time to look at the NEXT musical on at the Union and just buy my tickets now.

(This reviw is for a performance that took place on July 17, 2014. It continues through August 2nd.)

Review – Finian’s Rainbow – Phil Willmott at Union Theater

February 26, 2014

When I hear people complain about musicals – and by people, I mean people who just don’t like musicals – the theme tends to be that they just don’t make sense. People suddenly burst into song – this is seen as unusual by people who haven’t sat near me at 4:50 on a Friday afternoon – and the plots are frothy.

Now, I’ll agree that if you watch Hollywood musicals of the 30s or stage musicals of the 20s and 30s, the plots are at times little more than excuses to string together some songs, much in the same way pasties and g-strings work for strippers. The plot is not the point. And for some shows, there isn’t even a plot: it really is just songs and skits, what I consider a musical revue.

There is certainly plenty of room for acting in musicals, and I for one do like to have a plot of at least the gauzy dress variety. But I give up a certain adherence to logic when I go to musicals, because what I’m frequently hoping for is to be transported – to be wrapped in an experience of singing, music, and dance that causes my more critical faculties to be poofed away like the fuzz on the head of a dandelion. It’s a cruel world out there, and I swear on a stack of bibles that a good tap dance routine does a lot to sweeten the burden that is life. It does for me, anyway.

Finian’s Rainbow is exactly the kind of sweet, goofy show you want to go to when you need a little something to chase the blues away, when a love story with a happy ending that sends you out the door whistling a jaunty tune is just what the doctor ordered. The plot, about Irish immigrants who bring a leprechaun with them to Depression-era rural Tennessee, wins all of the points for imagination, with no pretense at believability. We’ve got a pot of gold, we’ve got a girl who talks with her feet, we’ve got wishes being granted right and left. God knows mine were, because the songs of Finian’s Rainbow are no fairy gold – they’re true-blue, best of the songbook standards of a quality you’d could spend a year watching new musicals without seeing once. “Old Devil Moon,” “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” I had never heard these songs in context before but I couldn’t believe how lush they were.

Of course, it helped tremendously that the leads had very strong pipes. Christina Bennington is especially magnetic as Sharon; not only does she have a sweet, true voice, but even when she was just listening to other people speak, her charisma held the stage. Joesph Peters is a nice dueter as Woody Mahoney, but his character slides a bit too far to caricature to be compelling. Sadly, a trick was missed with Raymond Walsh’s Og; his big solo could have been a real show-stopper but was instead pleasant but low on calories. Ah well, Laura Bella Griffin’s silent Susan Mahoney managed to say it with her feet; in fact, the dancing in general knocked the walls back. How did they get so much movement in such a small space? As ever, the effect of all of this in the Union is just overwhelming, a kind of theatrical high – some 22 actors all singing in harmony, and dancing, from two feet away and on all sides? It’s the kind of experience you’ll get nowhere else in London, like one of those sound experiments when you have a speaker on each side of you and you feel like you’re actually there. Only, in this case, you are, and it’s really heady fun.

In a time when the government is working on kicking the poor out of every place they live and build their communities, whether through a bedroom tax or simply shipping subsidized housing (and the people that live in it) away from jobs and off to the hinterlands, the “message” of Finian’s Rainbow is actually still quite relevant, although the community it depicts, with people of all races living together peacefully, still seems a bit of a dream. But it’s a dream I enjoyed watching playing out in front of me (I can’t tell you how happy I was to see a black character in a play from the 40s talking about going to Tuskegee University!). Even if this play is a little slice of fantasy, it was the flavor I gobbled up hungrily. And if the musical equivalent of dessert is what’s on your menu tonight, you could hardly do better than Finian’s Rainbow.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014. It continues through March 15th.)

Review – All Male H.M.S. Pinafore – Union Theater

November 10, 2013

It’s hard for me not to think of Gilbert and Sullivan and not immediately cringe. Their operettas choke on their own treacle – always a happy ending, inoffensive, prudish. No wonder am dram societies love them.

This received knowledge has been turned on its head by Sasha Regan’s witty all-male stagings. Starting with Pirates of Penzance in 2007, she’s pared away the accumulations of decades to reveal the tuneful songs, pointed jokes, and confused relations (between sexes and classes) that have, apparently, always been there. And she’s made them beautiful to watch … and sexy.

Gilbert and Sullivan sexy? Oh yes, and especially the Union’s H.M.S. Pinafore. The extreme manliness of a ship full of sailors – tussling in their bunks, working out in their smalls, stuffed four by four into the tiny thrust stage – was, um, disturbing, but in a good way. For me. A WWII aircraft carrier bunk room provides the trope for the production – they’re on ship, they’re bored, they’re going to play a pipe, dance a bit, and sing to each other. Watching them horse around during the overture helped pull me out of the present and into the show. The handling of the prologue is one of the cleverest elements of the Union’s G & S productions: by making the performers a group of friends doing something for themselves (for example, in Iolanthe, they were kids at a boarding school), the audience is provided a context for both why the cast is male and why they might suddenly decide to do a show together. Of course they’re doing Gilbert and Sullivan, everyone knows their music! It makes the casting feel completely sensible and not gimmicky, neither “being done to make a point” nor “a marketing ploy.” The show flows completely naturally from its beginning. It’s not a “gay” Pinafore: it’s just Pinafore, but the audience must now see it with modern eyes, without bustles and wigs in the way. And on such a small stage, the words and music are inescapable, leading to the shocking discovery that, actually, it’s damned funny. Who would have known?

The plot of Pinafore is fairly simple: a young sailor (Ralph – Tom Senior) is in love with his captain’s daughter (Josephine – Bex Roberts), who has been promised to “Sir Joseph,” the First Lord of the Admiralty (David McKechnie). There has to be a happy ending, but how will they get there? Meanwhile: who is Buttercup (Ciaran O’Driscoll), the “bum boat” woman,” and just how evil is hunchback Dick Deadeye (Lee Van Geleen)? The plot is moved ahead by songs that seem impossible to accept without strong doses of irony: “We Sail the Ocean Blue,” “A British Tar:” they seem ridiculous! But then, it seems more likely that they should be taken tongue in cheek when played against the captain’s “My Gallant Crew, Good Morning” (in which he reveals that he’s not very brave at all) and Sir Joseph’s “When I Was a Lad” (a complete satire of how to get ahead in the government – or, perhaps, the rude reality, be friends with the powerful, then as now!). Choreographer Lizzy Gee adds lots of fun to it all, putting the sailors to work doing semaphore-style dance moves and inserting an entire Olympic program that manages to mock Chariots of Fire as well as Darwin’s Ascent of Man. It’s all just heaps of fun and as a bonus, well, yummy sailors ahoy!

One of the biggest struggles for this series has been the difficulty of finding strong male counter-tenors in the ranks of the young actors that tend to take these parts; this leads to problems in volume, especially in mixed gender duets, when the female characters are overwhelmed by the stronger voices of the males (a problem for “Refrain, Audacious Tar”). However, Regan has a real winner in Ciaran O’Driscoll, who not only is a convincing, lovesick middle-aged woman, but who has a strong and warm voice perfectly suited to his role. Bex Roberts’ isn’t able to hold up against Tom Senior’s when they duet, but Roberts’ tone is sweet and his singing quite on, if soft.

Overall this show was ebullient, and I spent nearly the entire evening grinning from ear to ear. I’ve already booked to see it again at the end of the month, but I wish I could see it every week all winter long – now that would be the cure for the cold weather blues.

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(This review is for a performance that took place on Friday, November 1st, 2013. It continues through November 30th.)

Review – Darling of the Day – Union Theater (Southbank, London)

April 4, 2013

The Union Theater’s production of Darling of the Day was my first chance to see a fully realized production of a show I’d only ever seen done before in concert form (in the Lost Musicals series). In this case, the show (as a show) was also a UK debut, for despite its fine pedigree (Jule Styne! Yip Harburg!), Darling of the Day had been an utter failure in America, no doubt due to being unfortunately placed as an old-fashioned, story-and-songs musical at the same time Hair came out. Rock and roll and naked hippies, or, um, sorry, what was that again? Something about about lower class/Cockney English people a la Mary Poppins? You can see where it failed to find its audience.

It’s a show that for several reasons, I think, rates a place in the silver era of American musical. The songs are really solid, and held up well even under the limitations of opening night, when the second female lead was too unwell to sing at all and the first lead (Alice Chalice, played by Katy Secombe) was singing, if softly, through her own bronchitis recovery period. But the unique story, about an artist switching places with his butler so he can live a life of happy obscurity, is a great set-up for a show; we get on one hand the silly, shallow art world (depicted as being pretty much exactly the same as today) and on the other hand the fun yet poor world of the working class folk of Putney (obviously long departed and a comic element of its own in 2013 London). It’s all brightly realized with some pretty costly costumery and non-trivial dance numbers, both of which I think exceeded the normal budget allotted to the Union Shows. The comedy, though, came along with the script, and in a spring that shows not even a peep of hope of arriving, Darling of the Day is a lovely little charmer well worth the ticket cost for its power in warding off gloom and chill.

(This review is for a performance that took place on March 22nd, 2013. It continues through April 20th. If the Union’s website is crashing for you like it was for me, tickets can be bought directly at Ticketsource or by calling the box office.)

Review – Chess (the Musical) – Union Theatre

February 19, 2013

Chess is a musical with nearly legendary status given its famous parentage (Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of Abba for music and Tim Rice for lyrics) and child (“One Night in Bangkok”). How was it this seemingly blessed show could produce a top forty hit but be a Broadway flop? It was a bit of a mystery. Some people said it was because the topic, of cold war battles fought through the medium of US/Soviet chess games, which just didn’t hold up after the Soviet Union fell; but with some thirty years distance between the original production and now, it seemed like an ideal time to explore the ugly reality: was it just a bad show with uninteresting music? Or was it a work of genius sadly unappreciated in its time? I’d enjoyed the little taster provided at a Blink and You Missed It production: some song with a 4/3 time (I think), driving, unique and strong, the kind of compositional voice I’d rarely heard in the context of musical theater. And, er, well, um, I actually really like Abba. So, er, it was really just a right show/wrong time kind of thing … right?

Well, this is the facts: the Union has gone all out to make Chess the rock and roll musical co-directors Christopher Howell and Steven Harris must have imagined was at its core. The stage has been reconfigured as a thrust, with three or four rows of seats smashed between the brick walls of the theater and the rather overwhelming action on stage. There is COORDINATED MOVEMENT and SIDEWAYS LIGHTING and LOUD MUSIC and the whole thing made me feel like I’d been stuffed into a Donmar flavored custard cream cookie, which was REALLY COOL when I was being glamorized by the really intense everything but at other times just led to some serious show enjoyment problems which I’ll go into more detail in a bit.

The story is freaky, opening with the Hungarian spring being crushed by the Soviets, which somehow makes the underlying human cost of the cold war very tangible. It’s not just different ways of organizing economics, it’s not just a possible nuclear war, it’s people being shot in the streets and back alleys for dissident thoughts and families being used as pawns to manipulate their members. Wait, did I use a chess metaphor? Yes I did, and of course the whole show, of a Hungarian born American woman (Florence, Sarah Galbraith), a slightly nutso anti-Soviet American chess champion (Freddie, Tim Oxbrow), and his Russian rival (Anatoly, Nadim Naaman) is nothing but a game played by … well, not just the US and the USSR, but by the corporate interests sponsoring the chess matches, by Freddie against both Anatoly and Florence, and by Svetlana (the Russian agent, Natasha J Barnes) against pretty much everyone as long as she is able to show a success to her bosses. The whole thing starts to get a little Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy … but then for some reason in the middle of all this is a big dance number, One Night in Bangkok, which frankly just makes it all too surreal for words.

Unfortunately, because of the problems of the VERY LOUD BAND stage right (the side AWAY from the entrance to the theater) and the fact people were frequently singing with their backs to at least 1/3 of the stage, I found it very difficult to follow the lyrics and the occasional bits of spoken dialogue. I’m not sure if this was just an opening night problem, but it was just maddening, especially given that one of the awesome things about the Union is that they don’t have to mike people and you get to hear their unadulterated voices when they sing. Except, this time, I couldn’t, and neither could the guy sitting next to me, and neither could the guy sitting behind me and right in front of the band. It just sucks, because really this show felt so alive and cool and much better than I’d ever imagined a show about chess could be, and Florence was wonderfully heartbroken and determined (and man could she sing) and Freddie was fun and out of control the Arbiter (Craig Rhys Barlow) was all rock and roll. All in all, it was a vibrant production, but I feel like, given the sound quality, I really am not in a place to say for sure whether or not Chess is a good musical.

(This review is for the opening night performance, which took place on Friday, February 15th, 2013. It continues through March 16th, although I think at this point tickets will only be available by calling the Union Theater’s box office and praying for returns.)

Mini-review – Once Upon a Mattress – Union Theater (Southwark)

December 3, 2012

There is no moment so jolly as finding a killer deal on a show you wanted to see on the very night you happened to have a hole in your schedule. But there it was Sunday evening, a half price Twitter special for Once Upon a Mattress at the Union Theater, and off Jonathan and I went to catch a second show on what had suddenly become a tightly packed day.

I didn’t know anything more about Mattress than it was a silver age musical (per J) that is beloved of American high schools. Its fairy tale structure centers around a non-traditional heroine and a queen who wants to keep her son from ever cutting the apron strings, with a dose of out-of-marriage pregnancy to keep the plot from seeming too entirely old fashioned.

That said, this musical is rather stale, and without the benefit of brilliant songwriting to really lift it up. That left us with the acting, singing, and dancing to enjoy …which, as it turns out, I did. Much of this has to be credited to the outstanding performance of Jenny O’Leary as Princess Winnifred. She radiated charm, had the kind of voice you cheer to be able to enjoy unamplified, and single-handedly got me emotionally involved in the outcome of the show. Winnifred had to pass the princess test, she had to! There was also two lovely, completely unnecessary showoff moments in the “Very Soft Shoes” quasi-tap number (nice job, Daniel Bartlett) and a “Nightingale Lullaby” I was sure was originally written for Yma Sumac and performed with a similar degree of coloratura kabang by Danielle Morris.

These touches make me more forgiving of a soft book because at £20 a pop, it’s still a good deal and an enjoyable escape after a long day. The production is warm and Ms O’Leary worth seeing at the start of what I suspect will be a long and successful career in musical theater.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Sunday, December 2nd, at 7:30 PM. It continues through January 5th.)