Rothschild and Sons, 4****, London


Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Book by Sherman Yellen.
Based on The Rothschilds by Frederick Morton.


The Park Theatre 200, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP to 17 February 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 55 mins No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7870 6576.

Review: William Russell 20 January.

If I were a rich man . . .

This is a thoroughly delightful chamber musical about the origins of the famous banking family founded by Mayer Rothschild in Hesse towards the end of the 18th century. He had five sons, and after starting life selling rare coins from the family home in the town ghetto, Mayer and his children moved into banking, helped various princes with their cash and made a fortune like no other. The Rothschilds were, and possibly still are, the richest family in the world.

At times the patriarch Mayer has faint echoes of Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof which is no wonder as that too was a Bock and Harnick show. But the echoes are faint and all the two men really have in common is they were patriarchs who tended to lay down the law in song. The show go into any great detail as to how they amassed their wealth – mainly by funding the great powers of Europe in the war against Napoleon – which would have been tedious in the extreme. Rather it concentrates on the patriarch’s wishes for his sons to prosper, his desire to destroy the ghetto walls inside which Jewish families were confined, and the rebellious nature of Nathan, the son who came to England. The family succeed, after some financial skulduggery involving Metternich, in ending the age of the ghetto but on is left all too aware that they would go back up again in the fullness of time.

Bock’s score has some splendid songs for Robert Cuccioli as Mayer to deliver. He is totally in command of the role and gives exactly the sort of star performance required in the circumstances. He gets splendid support from Glory Crampton as his long suffering, but by no means stupid, wife Gutele, who ages brilliantly from bearer of sons to matriarch supreme as able as her late mate to lay down the law.
It has to be said the sons are a rather odd bunch and bear no signs of being related to one another, but this matters not as it allows each actor to establish a distinct personality in roles which otherwise would not be all that interesting. Best of all is Gary Trainor who plays Nathan, the son who insists on doing things his way and tends to rush in without thinking.
There is a splendid set, the lyrics, which are worth hearing, all come across – the diction of the singers is admirable – and director Jeffrey B Moss has put it all together with great flair. Rothschild & Sons is a case of if it had to be done then this is how to do it and deserves a longer life than this run at the Park where it is being given its European premier.

Mayer Rothschild: Robert Cuccioli.
Gutele: Glory Crampton.
Budurus: David Delve.
Salomon: Richard Dempsey.
Amshel: Tom Giles.
Guard/Various: Tom Lloyd.
Kalmann: Kris Marc-Joseph.
Fair Woman/Royalty: Joanna Strand.
Princes, Herries: Tony Timberlake.
Nathan: Gary Trainor.
Jacob: Stephen Webb.

Director: Jeffrey B Moss.
Musical Director: Ben van Tienen.
Choreographer: Denis Jones.
Set Designer: Rebecca Brower.
Costume Designer: Pam Tait.
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir.
Video Designer: Louise Rhoades-Brown.

2018-01-30 14:26:46

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