Book by John August Music & Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the Columbia Pictures film.
The Other Palace, 12 Palace Street, London SW1E 5JA to 31 December 2017.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed, Sat & Sun check times with web site.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7087 7900
Review: William Russell 7 November
Good grammer – or learning to love one’s Dad.
There is no denying that this tuneful little show warms the cockles of the heart although it also, it is so sugary sweet, may make your milk of human kindness start to curdle. Schmaltz can be too much of a good thing. But the day is saved by Kelsey Grammer, whose West End debut proves in the flesh to be every bit as spell binding a performer as he has been in television over the years, not always the case with visiting American TV stars. That third star is for him, by the way, not the show.
He plays Edward Bloom, a retired travelling salesman who has brought up his son on fantastic tales about his adventures on the road. The son, Will, is a stuffy pain in the neck who doubts their truth and feels he does not know his father. The show opens with his wedding at which Dad gets to tell the oldest joke in show business, much to Will’s discomfiture. It says much for Mr Grammar’s skill as a comic actor that he gets away with, ensuring the first, but not the last, laugh of the evening. When Edward collapses and has to go in to hospital the piece takes off in a series of fantasy scenes involving the characters he included in the tales he told his son and as the evening proceeds Will learns what a good man he was, before, as we know he will, Edward dies – after which the real people he based his stories on turn up at his funeral.
There lots of deliberately delightful production numbers performed by the cast in true, period end of the pier summer show style as the tales he told his son are retold from his hospital bed. There is a one eyed witch, a mermaid, bell bottomed sailors swabbing the decks with mops, the Andrews Sisters crooning, dancing nurses and orderlies, someone gets fired from a cannon, a manic, crooked but ultimately decent circus owner – Forbes Masson on form – and a gentle giant ogre nicely done by the very tall Dean Nolan. Clare Burt sings sweetly as Edward’s loving and tolerant wife Sandra, Matthew Seadon-Young manages to make the priggish Will almost bearable, and Jamie Muscato is a fine young Edward although there is no way he could possibly have grown up to become Kelsey Grammer.
The result is a jolly, harmless affair which may delight and charm all who go to see it. Mr Grammer does not join in the stressful bits – inevitably the cast go charging round the auditorium and through the audience – but smiles benignly on all he surveys as befits a senior citizen. There are also a lot of daffodils at the end of Act one.
Edward Bloom: Kelsey Grammer.
Sandra Bloom: Clare Burt.
Will Bloom: Matthew Seadon-Young.
Josephine: Frances McNamee.
Witch/Jenny Hill: Landi Oshinowe.
Amos/Don: Forbes Masson.
Karl: Dean Nolan.
Story Sandra: Laura Baldwin.
Story Edward: Jamie Muscato.
ZACKY: George Ure.
Story Jenny: Tanisha Spring.
Mermaid/Librarian: Sophie Linder-Lee.
Dr Barnett.Mayor: Jonathan Stewart.
Peggy/Girl with Cat: Gemma McMeel.
Boy: Billy Barratt; Jaxon Knopf; Colby Mulgrew.
Director: Nigel Harman.
Set & Costume Designer: Tom Rogers.
Lighting Designer: Bruno Poet.
Projection Designer: Duncan McLean.
Sound Designer: Avgoustos Psillas/Luke Swarfield for Autograph.
Choreographer: Liam Steel.
Musical Director: Alan Barry.
Dialect Coach: Daniele Lydon.