music by John Kander lyrics by Fred Ebb original Book by Peter Stone book and additional lyrics by Rupert Holmes.
The Landor Theatre 70 Landor Road SW9 9PH To 1 September 2012.
Wed, Sat 7.30pm (except Fri 7pm) Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 40 min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 737 7276.
Review: William Russell 5 August.
Ring Up the Curtain.
This Kander and Ebb musical enjoyed a modest run on Broadway in 2007 and one can see why. It is that hoary old gimmick, the comedy murder mystery set in Agatha Christie land, or the American version of it, in Boston where a musical loosely based on Oklahoma, starring a fading film star, is having previews.
Star Jessica Cranshaw is killed while taking her bow; the murderer has to be a cast member. They are duly holed-up in the theatre while police investigate. But if the book is no great shakes, the composer and lyricist have come up with some vintage numbers, including a devastatingly funny song about critics, ‘What Kind of Man?’
The Landor’s production is strongly cast. Best chances go to the substantial, magnificent Buster Skeggs as the impresario’s wisecracking wife; her numbers are immaculately timed and delivered with the brio of a Merman. Leo Andrew, as the show’s composer, half of a Comden and Greene writing team, gets the best songs and sings them with style.
The other half, Georgia Hendricks, played beautifully by Debbie Reynolds lookalike Fiona O’Carroll, takes over the lead, much to the annoyance of understudy Niki Harris (delicious Bronwyn Andrews) and the understudy’s understudy, Bambi Bernet (played to the hilt by Daniella Bowen) who happens to be Carmen Bernstein’s daughter.
Bryan Kennedy camps it up amusingly as the show’s director, and Thomas Sutcliffe bares his chest bravely as leading man. If there’s a weak point, it’s that Jeremy Legat, though very good in many respects, fails to make much of an impression as the investigating policeman, naturally a musical buff keener on improving the show than solving the crime.
The role was played on Broadway by David Hyde Pierce, who won a Tony, and therein lies part of the problem with this production. Hyde Pierce’s strength is to camp it up, but if one has one limp-wristed character getting the laughs – the show’s director – it is difficult to have two of them and the problem of how to play the policeman has not been solved. The show sparkles, but ought to dazzle.
Lieutenant Frank Cioffi: Jeremy Legat.
Nikki Harris: Bronwyn Andrews.
Georgia Hendricks: Fiona O’Carroll.
Carmen Bernstein: Buster Skeggs.
Aaron Fox: Leo Andrew.
Sidney Bernstein: Mark Joy.
Christopher Belling: Bryan Kennedy.
Bambi Bernet: Daniella Bowen.
Daryl Grade/Roy Stetson/ Ensemble: Tom Pepper.
Johnny Harmon: Dudley Rogers.
Oscar Shapiro: Martin Bishop.
Bobby Pepper: Thomas Sutcliffe.
Randy Dexter: Josh Wilmott.
Roberta Wooster/ Ensemble: Julia Cave.
Russ Cochrane/Ensemble: Greg Herst.
Jessica Cranshaw/Ensemble: Stephanie Parker.
Harv Fremont/ Ensemble: Zachary Morris.
Mona Page/Ensemble: Louise Gookey.
Detective O’Farrell/Brick Hawvermale/ Ensemble: Alastair Knights.
Director: Robert McWhir.
Designer: Martin Thomas.
Lighting: Rob Mills.
Sound: Sarah Weltman.
Musical Supervisor: Iain Vince Gatt.
Musical Director: Michael Webborn.
Choreographer: Robbie O’Reilly.