APARTMENT 40 C
book and lyrics by Ray Rackham Music by Tom Lees.
London Theatre Workshop above The Eel Brook Pub 65 New King’s Road SW6 4SG To 20 December 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 50min No interval.
William Russell 6 December.
A lovely new musical a delight to discover
This is a thoroughly delightful affair with an enchanting score and neatly devised plot. Though arguably still a work in progress, it is almost there. Impresarios with a passion for musicals and space to fill should hot-foot it to Chelsea.
What it needs is an unbiased eye; director Ray Rackham wrote book and lyrics, and the musical director is the composer Tom Lees. They are, possibly, too close to it.
Musically the piece reminds me of Love Story (no bad thing), partly because it is scored for piano, violin and cello. And it lacks a strong, stand-alone ballad, something Andrew Lloyd Webber always ensures his shows have. There are opportunities for one to be inserted and attempts at one are there. It also needs lyrics, for that song at least, which owe more to Tim Rice or Don Black than Stephen Sondheim. Rackham’s lyrics are intelligent, but he writes in a conversational style and there are no memorable words, no phrases to hook-on to.
Performances could not be bettered, with Peter Gerald as Edward and Nova Skipp as Kathryn on top form, though all the cast are terrific. We meet a boy and girl, new in town, both given the lease for the same apartment, both broke and at the start of life in the Big Apple.
Then a middle aged couple, once married, who have returned from a funeral, and another couple who have been trying to adopt; the woman has discovered she is pregnant.
They are, of course, the same couple. This is a tale about dreams, about love gone wrong, about youth turned sour in middle age, about whether it is still not too late to live happily ever after.
It is handsomely staged – the theatre has an impressive space if hideously uncomfortable seats – by Rackham, with a fine set by Jonti Angel and Eve Holdcroft. The trio led by Lees at the piano do justice to his music.
The show deserves an after-life. It may not yet be ready to face the chill West End winds, but is an impressive piece of work as it stands.
Katie: Alex Crossley.
Eddie: Alex James Ellison.
Kate: Lizzie Wolford.
Ed: Drew Weston.
Kathryn: Nova Skipp.
Edward: Peter Gerald.
Director: Ray Rackham.
Designers/Costume: Jonti Angel & Evie Holdcroft.
Lighting: Gavin Henderson.
Musical Director: Tom Lees.
Technical Director: Max Richardson.