book by Ken Ludwig music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin.

Open Air Theatre Queen Mary’s Garden Inner Circle Regent’s Park NW1 4NU To 10 September 2011.
Review: William Russell 11 August.

Transfers to Novello Theatre 5 Aldwych Novello Theatre WC2B 4LD To 28 July 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu (from 20 Oct), Sat & 25 Oct 3pm.

TICKETS: 0844 482 5171.

The quality sparkles as much as the show-girls.

The summer musical in Regent’s Park is an institution, and Timothy Sheader’s production of this musical by Ken Ludwig, loosely based on George and Ira Gershwin’s 1930 show Girl Crazy, is a sparkling affair.

Ludwig has come up with a decent book, some good jokes, and has added songs from other Gershwin shows, as well as losing several from the original. He may have over-egged the pudding slightly as the first twenty minutes of Act One seems a little bit like one darn song after another, but once things get into their stride all goes well.

The plot is the one about the dance-mad guy falling for a feisty girl and ‘putting on a show right here’ – in cowboy country naturally. As someone says to a doubter, “Mickey Rooney does it all the time.”

The songs are the thing – ‘Embraceable You’, ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘But Not For Me’, ‘Bidin’ My Time’, and ‘Nice Work if You Can Get It’ among them.

Peter McKintosh’s set, however, is ghastly, a clumsy dun-colour wooden construction, but that is the only flaw.

The money has clearly gone on the clothes – the eight chorus girls dripping in sequins and feathers would not look out of place in the grandest of Follies. Sean Palmer as Bobby, the Wall Street banker born to hoof, can sing, dance and has charm. As Polly, the Nevada cowgirl he falls for when sent to foreclose on her Dad’s abandoned theatre and ranch, Clare Foster is in fine voice and dances gracefully, although she gets terrible clothes (McKintosh can do showgirls, but not cowgirls) and has a wig – I hope it is a wig – which makes her look like Rebecca Brooks; not a good look.

This first-rate revival deserves an after-life. There is also sterling work from Kim Medcalf as Bobby’s unwanted fiancée – she gets ‘Naughty Baby’ to sing – and Harriet Thorpe as both his harridan mama and a passing English tourist. This is one of those shows where they tap your blues away. With Gareth Valentine conducting and Stephen Mear doing the choreography, what else would you expect?

Louise: Lucy Anderson.
Betsy: Jessica Buckby.
Bela Zangler: David Burt.
Mutzi; Cara Elson.
Elaine: Charlene Ford.
Polly Baker: Clare Foster.
Margie: Joanna Goodwin.
Susie; Amy Griffiths.
Patsy; Alexis Howen Hobbs.
Perkins/Jimmy/Eugene Fodor: Samuel Holmes.
Junior; Richard Jones.
Wyatt: Joshua Lacey.
Everett Baker; Sidney Livingstone.
Lank Hawkins: Michael McKell.
Irene Roth: Kim Medcalf.
Vera: Jo Morris.
Sam; Harry Morrison.
Billy; James O’Connell.
Bobby Child; Sean Palmer.
Moose: Carl Sanderson.
Pete: Phil Snowden.
Tess: Rachel Stanley.
Lottie Child/ Patricia Fodor; Harriet Thorpe.
Mingo: Stephen Whitson.
Director: Timothy Sheader.
Designer/Costume: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Tim Mitchell.
Sound: Mike Walker.
Orchestrator: Chris Egan.
Musical Director: Gareth Valentine. 
Choreographer – Stephen Mear.

2011-08-11 09:32:20

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