New London Theatre to Jan 7 2017
London WC2B 5PW
7.30pm Tues to Sat; mats Wed, Thurs, Sat at 2.30pm
Runs: 2hrs 40mins incl 20 min interval.
TICKETS: Box Office: 0844 412 4654
Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen April 27, 2016:
Overflowing with life and energy
Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s Show Boat was the musical that broke the mould in 1927. Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, it dared to mix serious themes – racism, alcoholism, a family saga – with musical entertainment. High and low produced an enduring classic of musical theatre that has now reached London from its sell-out revival at Daniel Evans’ Sheffield Theatre.
Evans is soon to move south to Chichester, already riding high with recent musical successes and West End transfers such as SweeneyTodd, Gypsy and the currently running Guys and Dolls.
If Show Boat is anything to go by, Sheffield’s loss is Chichester’s gain. Evans’ staging of the timeless Show Boat overflows with life and energy on Lez Brotherston’s glittering steamboat setting and boasting a superb chorus led by Sandra Marvin’s Queenie and Emmanuel Kojo as Joe, the role associated with Paul Robeson and the song, `Ole Man River’.
The much younger Kojo though is up to the job in Ferber’s story of the kindly Capt Hawks and his showboat – `we’re all one big happy family’ – cruising the Mississippi at a time when segregation’s harsh realities were still very much present in the Deep South.
Malcolm Sinclair’s Hawks is the ultimate in benign paternalism, seeing the best in everyone, even down to his gambling son-in-law, Gaylord who deserts his beloved daughter, `Nola’ before ultimately returning to the `family’ fold a quarter of a century later.
Peppered with sly humour, the making of Show Boat lies not only in its sympathetic characters and strong narrative line but its string of memorable songs. `Ole Man River’ apart, Rebecca Trehearn gives `Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine’ a rich, throaty seductiveness whilst Gina Beck’s Magnolia and Chris Peluso’s Gaylord sing the romantic ballads and light operetta songs with a sweetness that happily avoids the usual saccharine sentimentality.
Alistair David’s choreography too has real verve and freshness and the only sadness is that even on its third night after opening, the New London theatre was far from full. Some tweaks too with the sound quality would make what is already hugely enjoyable even more so.
Music by Jerome Kern,
Book & lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Based on the novel, `Show Boat’ by Edna Ferber
Joe: Emmanuel Kojo
Willy/Ensemble: Tosh Wanogho-Maud
Waiter/Ensemble: Lindford Johnson
Stevedore/Ensemble: Kit Esuruoso
Jake/Ensemble: Nolan Frederick
Charlie/Ensemble: Mykal Ranb
Stevedore/Ensemble: Javar La’Trail Parker
Queenie: Sandra Marvin
Town Girl/Governess/Lottie/Ensemble: Maria Omakinwa
Old Lady/Ethel/Ensemble: Linda John-Pierre
Pete Gavin/Jeb/Ensemble: Ryan Pidgen
Town Girl/Nun/Dottie/Ensemble: Victoria Hinde
Frank Schultz: Danny Collins
Mrs O’Brien/Mother/Superior/Ensemble: Kate Milner-Evans
Steve Baker/Jim Greene/Ensemble: Leo Roberts
Julie La Verne: Rebecca Trehearn
Sherrif Ike Vallon/Backwoodsman/Ensemble: John Coates
Ellie May Chipley: Alex Young
Town Girl/Nun/Kim/Ensemble: Christina Bennington
Windy/Drunk/Man/Ensemble: Adam Dutton
Captain Andy Hawks: Malcolm Sinclair
Parthy Ann Hawks: Lucy Briers
Magnolia Hawks: Gina Beck
Gaylord Ravenal: Chris Peluso
Young Kim: Lauren Cobey, Isabella Manca, Mia Long, Grace Schneider
Swings: Simi Akande, Georgie Ashford, Joshua Da Costa, Laura Darton, Dale Evans, Tom Partridge
Musical Director: Tom Brady
Keyboard/Associate Music Director: Peter McCarthy
Keyboard/2nd Cover Conductor: Simon Beck
Drums/Percussion: Mike Parkin
Double Bass: Laurence Ungless
Guitar/Banjo: Justin Quinn
Violin/Viola: Kathryn James
Trumpet/Cornet: Tom Walsh
Trumpet: Dave Hopkin
Trombone: Barnaby Philpott
Flute/Piccolo/Alto Saxophone/Clarinet: Mike Davis
Clarinet/Bass Clarinet: Jennie Chilton
Orchestral Management: Andy Barnwell for Musical Co-ordination Services Ltd
Director: Daniel Evans
Set & Costume Designer: Lez Brotherston
Lighting Designer: David Hersey
Sound Designer: Paul Groothuis
Choreographer: Alistair David
Associate Director: Marieke Audsley
Musical Director: Tom Brady
Musical Supervisor: David White
Orchestrations: Dan Delange
Video Designer: Tim Reid
Casting: Jill Green CDG
Children’s Casting: Debbie O’Brien
This version originally produced by Goodspeed Musicals, adapted and directed by Rob Ruggiero. Orchestrations by Dan Delange, as adapted from the originals by Robert Russell Bennett
A Sheffield Theatres production.
First performance at the New London Theatre, April 9, 2016
Show Boat is produced in the West End by David Ian with Bob Bartner and Norman Tulchin