Posts Tagged ‘Paul Farnsworth’

Review – She Loves Me, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 29 November 2016

slm-220x300You wait for ever for a seductively old-fashioned and tuneful period musical about a shop assistant falling in love, staged handsomely on four turntables and you get two in a row. What are the chances?

Following on the heels of the winning Half A Sixpence comes the Menier’s seasonal offering She Loves Me (book by Joe Masteroff, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock).

Essence It’s based on a play by Hungarian playwright Miklós László that inspired the films The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old Summertime and You’ve Got Mail. Tinder is yet to be invented and Amalia (Scarlett Strallen) and Georg (Mark Umbers), correspond gushingly in old-style ink (hurrah!) despite never having met, until that is, Amalia wheedles her way into a job at Maraczek’s Parfumerie in Budapest where Georg happens to work. Read the rest of this entry »

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Review – Candide, Menier Chocolate Factory

Monday 2 December 2013

0da9365bfeecf4a1a9c714ecaf59227cPhil’s 4th Candide, and if he had a better memory he would make comparisons. So a swift read up of the Whingers’ last one (at the ENO) reminded him that, in that case, it was long (3¼ hours), gimmicky and sometimes inaudible.

But that’s what can happen if you let opera companies have their wicked way with it. Thankfully this one is shorter (2 hours 40 mins), the often brilliant lyrics entirely audible and the staging traditional.

Well, one might say traditional if one were not a Whinger. The Menier’s production is off-puttingly staged in the round. But, and swallowing hard, Phil was forced reluctantly to admit that it works. Yes, occasionally there is the discomfort of a little Linda Blair-ish head swivelling to see the performers as they cavort around the auditorium (choreography Adam Cooper), but on the plus side you’re close enough to get a hooped skirt in your face and if seated in the front row may even find yourself becoming part of the show wearing a natty red titfer. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Charley’s Aunt, Menier Chocolate Factory

Tuesday 25 September 2012

It used to be said that Roddy Llewellyn once had a small part in Charley’s Aunt.

Tee hee. That silly old chestnut of a gag that naturally appeals to the Whingers’ puerile sense of humour. But then Brandon Thomas‘ Charley’s Aunt is a silly old (1892) chestnut of a comedy and strangely one they Whingers had never seen despite its fame and its illustrious roll call of famous ‘Aunts’ (listed in the Menier programme) which includes Noël Coward, Rex Harrison, Arthur Askey, John Gielgud, Frankie Howard, Danny La Rue, John Inman, John Mills, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith.*

It is indeed the comic cross-dresser’s Hamlet. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Lend Me A Tenor – The Musical, Gielgud Theatre

Monday 13 June 2011

Cast your minds back. Did we not suffer last year when we visited Ken Ludwig‘s original play on which Lend Me A Tenor – The Musical is based? The Whingers are nothing if not slow learners.

But in our defence it was simply too intriguing:  what could the addition of songs contribute – apart from making it longer and even more draining? Can one really make a musical out of a farce? Wouldn’t those ditties slow down and undermine the whole door-slamming raison d’être of the genre?

And coming hot on the heels of the early demises of Hair and the lamented (by us, and almost us alone) loss of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg another failure could the Gielgud Theatre be seeking to snatch the Shaftesbury (Home of the Flops until Hairspray came along) Theatre’s crown?

But the Gods of Optimism had been working overtime, casting two Whinger’s favourite folk: Matthew Kelly and Joanna Riding (Ms Riding presumably was presumably not even required to move out of the dressing room she occupied when appearing in Umbrellas) and the trap sprang shut.

Would hilarity ensue when the world’s greatest tenor Tito Merelli (Michael Matus) came to 1934’s Cleveland to save the ailing Grand Opera Company by giving his Otello,  suddenly becoming  indisposed requiring the director’s geeky assistant Max (Damian Humbley) to step in? Or would it be about as much fun as the Go Compare ads? Read the rest of this entry »