book by George Abbott and Douglas Wallop music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.
Brockley Jack Studio 410 Brockley Road SE4 2DH To 12 April 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Runs 2hr 15min. One interval.
TICKETS: 0208 699 3966.
Review: William Russell 2 April.
Director Dom O’Hanlon has staged this 1955 Broadway musical with considerable verve, and the score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross has vintage numbers, notably pantomime standby ‘Heart’, which you “gotta have”, and ‘What Lola Wants’.
It tells how middle-aged baseball fan and estate agent Joe Boyd sells his soul to the devil so his team the Washington Senators can defeat the Yankees. He is transformed into a young miracle hitter called Joe Hardy.
Naturally the devil, or his agent, Mr Applegate, does not keep his side of the bargain and Joe, having resisted the charms of the Devil’s sidekick, a vamp called Lola used to getting what she wants, learns there is more to life than hitting a winning home-run.
The baseball aspects are pretty tedious and the show has a problem about who is its main attraction. The character who has to carry it is Joe and Liam Christopher-Lloyd, a personable actor, has some difficulty doing this. The decision not to make him look middle aged at the start – he wears a chunky sweater to indicate he is set in his ways – does not help as he seems the same young man throughout. And his voice had problems with the higher notes in Joe’s songs – there was quite a lot of straining.
Jenny Delisle as his loving wife Meg sings beautifully, although she too looks too young. Paul Tate as the devious Applegate enjoys himself hugely but could have made more of his big Act Two number – and a reprise should only happen if it is merited.
Charlotte Donald did her best to vamp it up as Lola, although there is little chemistry between her and Joe, so she is no threat to his escaping the devil’s clutches.
It makes an undemanding, pleasant enough evening, the youthful cast work hard and the small band plays up a storm. But it is a musical which demands star quality in leading roles, otherwise, for all Mr O’Hanlon’s directorial flourishes and some rather good dance routines by Becky East, it is a rather pale imitation of what it could be.
Lynch: Rosie Bennett.
Joe Boyd/Joe Hardy: Liam Christopher-Lloyd.
Meg: Jenny Delisle.
Lola: Charlotte Donald.
Gloria: Rachel Lea Gray.
Henry: Joe Leather.
Van Buren: James Lorcan.
Smokey: Daniel Mack Shand.
Doris: Vicki Mason.
Ms Weston: Heidi Gowthorpe.
Sohovick: Adam Samuel-Bal.
Rocky: Kevin Sherwin.
Sister: Amber-Rose Summers.
Appplegate: Paul Tate.
Director: Dom O’Hanlon.
Musical Director: Sarah Burrell.
Choreographer: Becky East.