I have been SO excited about this musical, and followed every bit of information about it (as regular visitors to this blog will no doubt know, hehe) and so seeing the show tonight was definitely one of my most anticipated visits to a theatre that I’ve ever had (and, believe me, I tend to go a lot, thanks to this blog and work!).
From the outset, I should confess that the 1990 movie has to be my all time favourite piece of entertainment that exists, anywhere… I mean seriously, it’s just sheer romantic perfection! I don’t think any other film will ever beat it. To that end, I was a little worried about this production and that I had over-hyped it in my imagination – but I need not of worried…. it was one of the most romantic things I’ve seen, EVER – I cried for pretty much the last ten minutes solid heh!
I LOVE how versatile the stage is, and the use of the light screens as opposed to traditional theatre flats – they move around the space SO well! The illusions are second to none, and at several points in the production, I heard people gasping, even from the back row!
The main strengths in this production are, as you would expect, Richard Fleeshman (playing Sam), Caissie Levy (Mollie) and the ever fabulous Sharon D. Clarke (Oda Mae Brown) – between the three of them, they absolutely made my all time favourite movie come to life, right in front of my eyes, and I shall forever love them for it!!
Fleeshman and Levy make the perfect pairing, despite my initial reservations when casting was announced, as it transpires that they are possibly the cutest couple I’ve ever seen – and whenever Sharon D. is on the stage, you can totally bet that your chair will be a rockin’ and a boppin’!! (I’ve been a huuuuuuge Sharon fan for years heh!)
The production has a few rather fab songs – there’s a few that didn’t much grab me, but I’m sure that when I listen to the soundtrack again, on endless repeat, that I’ll quickly warm to them – Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and Glen Ballard have done a stirling job on them I thought!
All in all, and without wanting to say too much, as I know there are so many die-hard fans (which is why I am keeping this post a little aloof), whilst this isn’t the next Les Mis, it IS an amazingly fabulous and pretty timeless night out! People are invariably going to compare it to the movie, especially as the original writer, Bruce Joel Rubin, was very heavily involved with the project – and whilst I think it’s fair to do so, I do hope that the comparison doesn’t come to define the production and it is allowed to stand on its own merits too. Certainly, it was a production that I am never going to forget, and it really brought the romance back in to the West End for me!
The only scene that didn’t really work, in my opinion, was the scene with the rapping ghost on the subway – he just came across as a little bit TOO weird, and I felt that this jarred slightly with the production. Some of the choreography was a little clunky too I felt when it came to ensemble / city based numbers. However, I am seeing this show in previews (and it’s already been reworked in a few places since it’s Manchester previews, I believe) and so I’m sure this will all be ironed out very shortly.
I happened to hang about after the production so that I could go to Stage Door (which is just down the side of the theatre, heading towards Shaftesbury Avenue – the cast seem to come out fairly quickly, within around 20 mins) and Richard Fleeshman, Sharon D. Clarke and Caissie Levy were all VERY kind and took time to sign my programme and say a few words. Richard especially seemed very very genuine and took the time to look up directly at me after signing my programme, smile and thank me for coming (and yes, our thumbs totally brushed each others, and no, I’m never washing it again hehe!!).
Submitted by guest blogger @dom_young