book and additional lyrics by James Rottger lyrics by James Oban and Yannis Koutsakos music by Yiannis Koutsakos.
Charing Cross Theatre The Arches Villiers Street Charing Cross WC2H 6NL To 19 April 2014.
Runs 1hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 4930650.
Review: William Russell 12 March.
Engaging and often witty.
This little musical is about those West End theatre folk who sell you the over-priced programmes and ice-creams, usher you to your seats and direct you to the loo. The score is pleasant, the six strong cast talented, the lyrics frequently very funny and there are interspersed videos of a training manual for staff run by a fictional company, Theatre Nation, whose selling techniques ticket buyers are all to painfully familiar with – all those hidden extras which top up the ticket price.
Topical, then, it certainly is. It has something to say. But it is a little over-stretched and the plot-line about the private lives of five ushers terrorised by a corrupt front of house manager does not really sustain one’s interest.
Four of them are out of work actors. Two are gay lovers having a crisis, one a very gormless girl, attracted to the other boy, a would-be leading man stuck in the chorus, and the fifth a twitter fiend who secretly photographs the stars.
The theatrical in-jokes are great – there is a lovely line to the effect that if something “were any cheaper Kenwright would send it out on tour” – and as the nasty house manager, a failed opera singer, Ralph Bogar has the time of his life.
But the affair between Stephen and Ben is tedious, sweetly though Ross McNeill sings, and the romance between Lucy and Gary never takes flight, which leaves Ceris Hine raising the roof as the irrepressible Rosie, a blonde celebrity junkie with no interest in being an actor.
What is missing is the customers – the latecomer, the lover stood-up, the foreigner who does not know where to go, the person who wants to buy a programme, the ones who cannot find their seats, the person who storms out in a rage, and all those who want the loo as the three-minute bell rings.
As a work in progress there is a lot to be said for it, but the show needs trimming – 75 minutes’ running time would be about right. They could also spruce up their tap-dancing skills for the big finale.
Robin: Ralph Bogard.
Gary: Daniel Buckley.
Rosie: Ceris Hine.
Stephen: Ross McNeill.
Ben: Liam Ross-Mills.
Lucy: Carly Thomas.
Director: Max Reynolds.
Designer/Costume: Amy Job.
Lighting: Alex Matthews.
Sound: James Nocholson.
Musical Director: Lee Freeman.
Video: Guido Cavaciuti.
Choreographer: Russell Smith.