THE KISSING DANCE, London, To 28 Feb

Music by Howard Goodall
Book & lyrics by Charles Hart.

Ye Old Rose and Crown Theatre, to 28 February
53 Hoe Street, London E17 4SA to 28 February.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sun 3pm.
Runs: 2hr 40mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 8509 3880.
Review: William Russell 12 February.

Melodies galore in a jolly romp.
Set on All Fools Night this version of Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer was originally commissioned by the National Youth Music Theatre. One result is that everyone gets a chance to shine, even the ensemble, which gets a little wearing at times and slows down the action.

It is the tale of the two fortune hunters who mistake the home of the Hardcastle family they are about to descend on for an inn and much confusion ensues. It has been strongly cast, but director Brendan Matthew has made the dubious decision to set the action not in the 1700s but in 1918 on the grounds that it was a year of celebration and victory when women were given the right to vote. What better time to set a musical that celebrates the strength of women than when they were revelling in victory?

Be that as it may, and it is misguided to say the least, he could have adapted the dialogue which reeks of the 1700s. Fortunately much of the action is conducted in song – there are duets, quartets and lots of chorus numbers to enjoy and a good, if over loud orchestra to back up the singers.

The problem is that the musicians are at the back of the stage and a wall of sound – the pianist is particularly loud and heavy handed – tends to engulf the singers which is a pity because the cast can sing.

The show has also been choreographed to excess, all sorts of peculiar dance movements erupting at the strangest times. None of this detracts from the fact that The Kissing Dance is a delightful operetta, but a rather less heavy handed, frenetic staging would have allowed its virtues to flourish rather than overwhelm them.

Kira Morsley, a Rita Hayworth lookalike, is a feisty and funny Kate Hardcastle, the heiress with a mind of her own; Robert Metson is nicely prissy as Hastings, one of the fortune hunting swains,; Jacob Jackson makes his mark as Tony Lumpkin, the country squire with a passion for bars and barmaids who sends the men to his parental home pretending it is an inn where they can pass the night; and as his mother, now married to Squire Hardcastle, Laurel Dougall goes wildly, but hilariously, over the top.

Kate Hardcastle: Kira Morsley.
Charles Marlow: David Zachary.
Constance Neville: Emily Peach.
George Hastings: Robert Metson.
Mrs Hardcastle: Laurel Dougall.
Mr Hardcastle: Andrew Truluck.
Bridget: Rebecca Withers.
Tony Lumpkin: Jacob Jackson.
Bet Bouncer: Emily Chesterton.
Perkin: Scott Hunter.
Stingo: Nicholas Chiappetta.
Pansy: Kate Hume.
Roger: Steven Dalziel.
Diggory & Sir James Marlow: Toby Hine.

Director: Brendan Matthew.
Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.
Choreographer: Charlotte Tooth.
Set & Costume Designer: Joanna Dias.
Lighting Designer: Sky Bembury.

2016-02-15 11:00:16

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