Music by Burton Lane Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

The Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, Southwark, London SE1 0LX to 28 September 2013
Tues- Sat 7.30 pm Mat Sun & Sat 2.30pm
Runs 2 hr One interval

TICKETS: 0207 261 9876

Review: William Russell 6 September

Take a gamble on Daisy.
As always with so many musicals it is the book that is the problem. Alan Jay Lerner was fascinated by reincarnation and extra sensory perception but somehow he never quite got the plot of this 1965 musical he wrote with Burton Lane quite right.
It went through endless revisions before it opened and was only a modest success.

The 1970 film version directed by Vincent Minelli starring Barbra Streisand found the story being rewritten all over again and was neither artist’s finest hour, although Streisand did make the title song her own.

For this latest attempt by the ever optimistic Union’s Sasha Regan to show there is life in shows like this director Kirk Jameson has gone back to the original Broadway book. He does not quite succeed, but it was probably an impossible task. Lerner as a dramatist was never really all that good. Brigadoon, for instance, is pretty ropey as a story, and George Bernard Shaw was undeniably the reason for My Fair Lady being as fine as it is dramatically.

However there are two very good reasons for catching it, quite apart from the chance to see one more Broadway show which will never get a West End production. One is Vicki Lee Taylor as Daisy Gamble, the girl who goes to a psychiatrist to be hypnotised into giving up smoking and reveals under hypnosis that she can foresee things that are going to happen, encourage plants to grow, and has memories of a past life as an 18th Century society lady with an unsuitable husband. The other is Nadeem Crowe as the analyst, Dr Mark Bruckner, who hypnotises her and falls first in love with Melinda, the 18th Century lady, and then with Daisy, saving her from marrying a boring chap called Warren.

Lee Taylor is gorgeous, blonde, pert, and adept at getting as much comic mileage as possible out of the role of the cookie Daisy – very much a Sixties American comic type – who suffers from low self esteem. She also sings rather well. As the psychiatrist Crowe, who has an equally good voice, makes an essentially rather dull role interesting.

The rest of the cast are fine, although it was a mistake to open with them singing the title song off stage because as a choir their voices simply do not meld. They sound raucous to put it politely.

Jameson’s production is fluent, although he has some difficulty in making clear the difference between the world of Daisy and that of Melinda – one needs a better set for that – and the hidden band under Inga Davis-Rutter do full justice to Lane’s score which, although it has only two outstanding songs – the title one and Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here, which Daisy sings to her pot plants – is perfectly serviceable.

Daisy Gamble: Vicki Lee Taylor
Dr Mark Bruckner: Nadeem Crowe
Edward Moncrieff: Matt Beveridge
Warren Smith: Howard Jenkins
James Preston/Solicitor: Felix Mosse
Dr Conrad Fuller: David Mckechnie
Mrs Hatch/Melinda’s Mother: Rachel Spurrell
Muriel Bunson: Emma Harold
Patty/Flora: Laura Robson
Sally: Rebecca Lawrence
Mr Wells/Student: Dan O’Brien
Student: Ross McNeill

Director: Kirk Jameson
Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane
Musical Director: Inge Davis-Rutter
Lighting Designer: Charlie Morgan Jones
Assistant Director: James Lacey

2013-09-07 12:09:33

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