Book by Lawrence Kasha & David S. Landay
Music by Gene De Paul Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
New Songs by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn
Based on the MGM Film and The Sobbin’Women by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Inner Circle, London NW1 4NU to 29 August 2015.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.15pm.
Runs 2 hr 15 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 826 4242

Review: William Russell 28 July.

The dancing and the leading lady carry the show; splendid revival.
This splendid revival of a 1982 Broadway show based on the great 1954 MGM film directed by Stanley Donen is well worth catching for the dancing alone. The plot was somewhat suspect in 1954 – inspired by the rape of the Sabine Women in which a family of backwoodsmen in Oregon kidnap some girls from the valley below to be their brides. Although questionable these days, somehow it’s rendered acceptable. This is partly because it is a fairy tale version of pioneer life anyway, but largely because of the direction by Rachel Kavanaugh it avoids all the pitfalls.

Things are also helped by the performance of Laura Pitt-Pulford, as Milly, the bride the eldest brother, Adam Pontipee, acquires on a visit to town as a skivvy to look after the rest of the family. Milly, however, is her own woman and soon puts everyone in their place.

It is her copy of the book about the Sabine Women which sets the brothers thinking. Ms Pitt-Pulford is a delight and has both the personality and the voice to command the stage. As Adam, however, Alex Gaumond has his work cut out to avoid seeming a rather objectionable chauvinist and has none of the dash Howard Keel brought to the part in the movie.

The plot has been slightly reworked – film scripts are not plays – and there are some new songs to help the action along, none of which come up to the level of the original songs by Gene De Paul.

Why When You’re in Love was dropped is a mystery because the big new ballad, Love Never Goes Away, is no great shakes. The same goes for the June Bride number. However the scene at the social when the brothers and the boys from the town face up to one another is splendidly danced, worth the ticket price alone, and Alistair David’s choreography is inventive and a joy to watch.

This is a revival to relish even if it does not eclipse the film on which it is based.

The Pontipee Brothers
Adam: Alex Gaumond.
Benjamin: James Leece.
Caleb: Ed White.
Daniel: Leon Cooke.
Ephram: Bob Harms.
Frank: Adam Rhys-Charles.
Gideon: Sam O’Rourke.

The Brides
Milly: Laura Pitt-Pulford.
Dorcas: Charlene Ford.
Ruth: Karli Vale.
Liza: Rosanna Bates.
Martha: Natasha Mould.
Sarah: Frankie Janna.
Alice: Bethany Huckle.

The Suitors
Nathan: Peter Nash.
Luke: Ryan Pidgeon.
Matt: Eamonn Cox.
Joel: Dylan Mason.
Zeke: Philip Marriott.
Jeb: Jacob Fisher.
Mr Hoallum: David Burrows.
Mrs Hoallum: Annie Wensak.
Mr Sander: Steve Fortune.
Mrs Sander: Angela M. Caesar.
Preacher: Trevor Michael Georges
Swings: Emma Woods, Matthew WhennellClark.

Director: Rachel Kavanaugh.
Set & Costume Design: Peter McKintosh.
Choreography: Alistair David,
Musical Supervisor & Dance Arranger: Gareth Valentine.
Musical Director: Stephen Ridley.
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell.
Sound Designer: Nick Lidster for Autograph.
Fight Director: Kate Waters.

2015-07-29 10:05:02

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