DISASTER! 5STAR*****, London, 2 special performances

A 70’s disaster movie musical
By Seth Rudetsky & Jack Plotnick
additional material by Drew Geraci
5Stars *****

Charing Cross Theatre, the Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6 NL on 20 November 2016.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.

Two charity performances in aid of MAD – the Make a Difference Trust.
Review: William Russell 20 November.

The funniest show in town – if only for a moment
This on and off Broadway show starring Seth Rudetsky was staged to benefit MAD, a trust which raises funds for HIV/Aids sufferers. But if what we saw does not tempt someone to give it a longer run somewhere else then an opportunity has been missed. To a splendid selection of songs of the 70s performed by a terrific on stage band Rudetsky and his collaborators send up all those disaster movies in which earthquakes shatter lives, ships turn turtle and plagues of beastly creatures threaten an assorted collection of Americans from the good to the bad and the ugly.

It has enjoyed several runs on and off Broadway, and some of the cast came to take part, notably, apart from Rudetsky playing the man who foresees the disaster and is not listened to, Jennifer Simard who plays the inevitable singing nun. A gambling addict her way with a tempting slot machine when someone gives her a quarter is hilarious. That she looks a bit like Bette Davis helps.

From the home grown lot appearing Sally Ann Triplet has a whale of a time as the inevitable middle aged wife who with husband has turned up to the casino threatened by disaster for a happy time. She has, of course, a fatal disease but does not want him to know. It manifests itself in several non politically correct ways, best of all being a tendency to use bad language. Ms Triplet stuffing her mouth with her hanky to stop the flow is a joy to behold, and even more so when, to save a couple trapped by a water tight door, she has to tap dance the code to open it in Morse. There is also a lovely turn by Bradley Riches who has to play twins while Simon Lipkin as the crooked owner combing his chest hair is a sight to recall with horror for ever. But naming names is invidious.

Rehearsed more or less on the day and performed on the Ragtime set part of the pleasure was the ad hoc nature of what happened – like the moment when dragging the corpse of his wife off stage, after rejoicing she had been saved when the ship goes down she got squashed by a falling chandelier, the grief stricken husband walked into a blocked up exit.

To anyone tempted to take it on – just don’t change a thing. And if the Americans are not available there is no shortage of Britons who could take over. Everyone knows the films, everyone knows the songs, and everyone knows most of the jokes. It is a right old carry on.

Professor: Seth Rudetsky.
Sister: Jennifer Simard.
Chad: Oliver Tompsett.
Tony: Simon Lipkin.
Shirley: Sally Ann Triplett.
Levora: Sandra Marvin.
Jackie: Jodie Jacobs.
Marianne: Alice Fern.
Ben/Lisa: Bradley Riches.
Maury: Paul Grunert.
Scott: Mark Anderson.
Jake: Chris Warner.
Wealthy Man: Drew Geraci.
Wealthy Woman: Ruthie Stephens.

Ensemble: Anthony Starr, Hayley Jones, Katie Warsop, Rachel Grundy, Sam Lathwood, Will Lockett.
Ensemble singers: Alice Nilsen, Christ Hewitt, Daniel Maybury, Gabrielle Jones, Natasha Leaver, Wilson Kiru.

Director: Jack Plotnick.
Choreographer: Ashley Nottingham.
Music Director: James Taylor.
Lighting Designer: Rachel Sampley.
Sound Designer: Nico Menghini.
Design & Props: James Prendergast.
Costume Designer: Estera Parker & William Ivey Long.
Video Designer: Bruno Collins.

2016-11-21 14:49:15

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