book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II based on the novel Show Boat by Edna Ferber music by Jerome Kern.
Crucible Theatre Norfolk Street S To 23 January 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.15pm no evening performance 24, 31 Dec.
no performance 25-28 Dec, 1 Jan.
Mat Wed, Thu, Sat & 22 Dec 2.15pm.
Audio-described 7 Jan 7.15pm (+ Touch Tour 5.45pm).
BSL Signed 7 Jan 7.15pm.
Captioned 9 Jan 2.15pm.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 0114 249 6000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 December.
Can’t help loving this show.
Following the flow of this mighty show it’s hard to believe its great waves are those of a considerably cut-down version prepared only a few years ago. For, like its most famous, unseen character, ‘Ole Man River’, at full stretch it would keep on rolling along over four hours’ playing-time.
At Sheffield, Daniel Evans’ final Crucible Christmas musical has the right sense of greatness but doesn’t seem a minute too long. It starts all plain-sailing, a wooden-walled stage suggesting both the shape of a boat and a quayside. Within moments the audience-facing chorus have divided into two, diagonally opposed; the Black people working, the White folk taking their ease.
Then the rear wooden wall erupts, admitting the several layers and multitude of colours of the show boat itself, the travelling theatre, or entertainment centre, of its day. Called the Cotton Blossom, its name softens the realities of harsh Southern US discomfort after the post-Civil War reconstruction of racial divides.
This innovative 1927 musical can raise political matters directly. The moment singer Julie LaVerne is stopped mid-song and ejected for being of mixed-race, would only need a change of costume to seem something from a story from 1930s Germany.
Yet a musical filled with songs about love and its many surprises, is unsurprisingly focused also on the way its characters’ lives are determined by their individual characters. And these include several strong women, thanks, no doubt, to Edna Ferber’s source novel.
As the second half, aided by background video, moves events across four decades from history to the piece’s present day, it becomes also an exploration of the way youthful glamour and charisma lose impact with the greying of age, with the youthful glamour of a gambler’s risk-taking turning into the disappointed routine of impoverishment. Or the way love and loyalty persist in the human system, permanent values beneath changing circumstances.
Magnificently performed, sung and danced throughout, Sheffield’s production also makes clear why ‘Ole Man River’, beginning as a mere trickle in Joe’s throat, swells to become the mighty choric tide in a musical blessed with a flood of soul-catching melodies.
Joe: Emmanuel Kojo.
Willy/Ensemble: Tosh Wanogho-Maud.
Waiter/Ensemble: Linford Johnson.
Stevedore/Ensemble: Akintunde Esuruoso, Kenny Thompson.
Jake/Ensemble: Nolan Frederick.
Charlie/Ensemble: Ian Carlyle.
Queenie: Sandra Marvin.
Governess/Lottie/Ensemble: Maria Omakinwa.
Old Lady/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: Bob Harms.
Julie LaVerne: Rebecca Trehearn.
Sherrif Ike Vallon/Backwoodsman: John Coates.
Ellie May Chipley: Alex Young.
Town Girl/Nun/Kim/Ensemble: Christina Hoey.
Windy/Ensemble: Adam Dutton.
Captain Andy Hawks: Allan Corduner.
Parthy Hawks: Lucy Briers.
Magnolia Hawks: Gina Beck.
Gaylord Ravenal: Michael Xavier.
Young Kim: Ella Musgrove/Phoebe Nicholson/Amy Nugent.
Director: Daniel Evans.
Designer: Lez Brotherston.
Lighting: David Hersey.
Sound: Paul Groothuis.
Musical Supervisor/Director: David White.
Orchestrator: Dan DeLange as adapted from the originals by Robert Russell Bennett.
Choreographer: Alistair David.
Video: Tim Reid.
Dialect coach: Kara Tsiaparas.
Fight director: Liam Evans-Ford.
Assistant director: Celine Lowenthal.
Assistant musical director: Tom Brady.
Assistant choreographer: Victoria Hinde.