Tag Archives: Charing Cross Theatre

Operetta Review: The Mikado (Charing Cross Theatre, London)

If you're wondering who they are... The cast of The Mikado. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

If you’re wondering who they are… The cast of The Mikado. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell

An exquisite vision and lavish production from Thom Southerland, but fails to capture the “oomph” that is key to a great Gilbert & Sullivan (G&S) show.

Overview

W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s renowned opera set in fictional Titpu, Japan, is given a 1920’s British make-over. 2nd trombonist, Nanki-Poo, returns to Titipu when learning that Ko-Ko, the ward and fiancé of his beloved Yum-Yum, is set to be executed. But we he arrives, he finds that small town corruption and impossible politics have seen Ko-Ko promoted to Lord High Executioner. As Nanki-Poo tries to weave a way to regain his love whilst saving the neck of his chief adversary, the solution causes more problems that it solves. After all, Nanki-Poo is not quite the wandering minstrel he purports to be.

Rebecca Caine (left) as Kitisha and Steve Watts (right) as Pooh-Bah. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Rebecca Caine (left) as Kitisha and Steve Watts (right) as Pooh-Bah. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Music & Libretto

Gilbert and Sullivan create a wonderful farce that’s scathingly satirical and blissfully funny. Like with any of their works, they unmercifully send up the establishment and anyone caught in its wake. Here, romancing exotic Victorian ideas of the Far East, the text is also full of very tongue in cheek Japan-isms, especially such as the names of the characters. But they still lambastes government shenanigans and the idiocy of the gentry in doing so. A mad-cap farce of love and corruption, The Mikado has endured to make it one of the best known works from their anthology due to its scintillating wry libretto and memorable music.

As well as great comic numbers, what is perhaps most endearing about this particular operetta are several beautiful arias that are pricked with pathos, providing sublime diversion from the silliness. Particularly, “The Sun, Whose Rays Are All Ablaze” is just as much as a pull for the opera as it’s comedy. This results in a wonderful mix of pathos and humour that surprisingly compliment each other incredibly well and provides for a show with as much variety as laughs.

Unique to this and every production is the carrying on of the tradition where Ko-Ko’s “list” gets updated for each run to include modern references, sending up contemporary villains and celebrity nuisances. Here, the company does an excellent job of doing this, possibly providing bigger laughs than Gilbert & Sullivan’s text itself. However, the production also goes the extra mile to also give the same treatment to “A More Humane Mikado Never Did Exist in Japan”, which is just as bellowingly cheeky and hilarious.

Getting carried away! Matthew Crowe (centre) as Nanki-Poo. Photograph: Courtesy of Steve Rylander.

Getting carried away! Matthew Crowe (centre) as Nanki-Poo. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Direction & Production

Award winning director Thom Southerland has brought all the high quality hallmarks of his career to this production. The concept, setting the Mikado in a 1920s British Japanese fabric factory/shop, looks wonderful and provides a feast of visual fun. The blend of geisha glamour and Charleston glitz (with a dash of Weimar cabaret) gives Southerland plenty of ammunition to create a visual spectacular. Particularly, McKneely’s immense choreography really embraces Southerland’s vision, and ends up driving both the energy and the humour that runs through it. Then there are little visual quips too, such as the cast eating cucumber sandwiches using chopsticks which is just as delightful as the bigger more noticeable gags. Jonathan Lipman’s costumes are also sumptuous and are impressively detailed, brimming with colour and intricacies embracing this culture-crossover of east meets west. Everything about the production is lavish and well thought out. It’s as glorious an off-West End production as they come.

However, Southerland’s decision to turn to directing G&S, attempting to bring operetta to a theatre audience, is perhaps one of worthy but misplaced ambition. Despite an enthusiastic cast and gorgeous production, it’s a show that doesn’t quite get the essence of operetta, meaning that it falls flat and drags more than it should. The problem is that Southerland seems to be trying to direct The Mikado as if it were a theatrical comedy. Therefore, whilst it has the kitsch, it doesn’t have the camp energy that is essential to bring this to life in the way that it needs to.

A wandering minstrel, he. Matthew Crowe as Nanki-Poo. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

A wandering minstrel, he. Matthew Crowe as Nanki-Poo. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Producing and directing G&S is almost an academic affair. Notably, there are several highly acclaimed companies that specialise in performing there, such as the Charles Court Opera Company and D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. What they understand is that G&S operettas are pretty much the panto of opera: literally. Gilbert spent a lot of his early career writing pantomimes, and a lot of that is arguably incredibly prevalent in his work with Sullivan, and forms the basis of the style of the their operettas. Therefore, an unshakable and unabashed energy must run through it at all times. Characters needs to be larger than life rather than something more natural, and the pace must be unrelenting and over the top where it needs to be. This is something that Southerland hasn’t quite been able to capture here, although he starts getting close to this ideal in Act II.

Furthermore, it is beyond me why anyone would put on an operetta and have less than half the cast as trained classical singers. As talented a professional West End cast as this boasts, there is a power in a chorus and leading members that only classical training provides and is absolutely required even in operetta. This adds to the flagging energy at times as it means the show misses the aural “oomph” as much as the stylistic one. The bits that work best are when these involve the members of the cast who are classically trained, namely Rebecca Caine as Katisha, Mark Heenehan as The Mikado, and Leigh Coggins as Yum-Yum. Whilst the others match their comic performance skills, none ever quite capture the power and richness of their voices and the correct tonal and timbre treatment of the songs. For example, leading man Matthew Crowe as Nanki-Poo, is a well versed and celebrated musical theatre actor. But he’s not a classical tenor, meaning that in many of his songs he’s constantly resorting to using falsetto, meaning volume and power is instantly lost. Therefore, despite his reputation and skill, he becomes the weakest member of the cast because of this. It’s not at all his fault and is merely an error in casting.

Other missteps include things such as insisting on acrobatic movements during patter songs. A lot of the glorious libretto is lost in numbers such as “There Is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast” because it’s just plain difficult for a cast to annunciate these already quick-tongued songs without being expected to roll about on the floor!

In short, this is a striking production, but there’s a reason why specific G&S companies exist and why operetta is classed in an entirely separate genre to both opera and musicals. It’s something Southerland strives towards, but doesn’t at all achieve.

Such a beautiful left elbow. Rebecca Caine as Katisha. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Such a beautiful left elbow. Rebecca Caine as Katisha. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Cast

Caine absolutely steals the show as Katisha. There’s a power and playfulness in everything she does to make her an expert villain, making Cruella DeVille look like Marry Poppins by comparison. Yet, she brings a tenderness and unexpected humanity for her more reflective arias, especially “Alone, And Yet Alive” that is as unexpectedly striking.

Other mentions must go to Hugh Osborne and Steve Watts as Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah respectively. These two roles are pretty much the only two roles you can get away with not casting classically trained singers in, and they’ve been cast wonderfully. Osborne’s timid, ambitious, and fretful Ko-Ko and is complemented by Watt’s marvellous pompous and “grossly insulted” crocked aristocrat. They’re a formidable double-act that reel in the laughs and are a joy to watch.

Verdict

A very worthy and slick attempt at bringing G&S to new theatre audiences. But as slick as and meticulously produced as it is, it’s missed the mark by trying to treat operetta as a musical theatre rather than try to achieve the specialist approach that these famed pieces require. None the less, it’s still enjoyable and entertaining in spite of this, and is a fun and lavish evening out.

[youtube http://youtu.be/EX6TOmMMOkI]

The Mikado runs at the Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL.,until 3 January 2015. Tickets are £22.50 (concessions available). To book, visit www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.

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Revue Review: Jacques Brel is Alive And Well And Living in Paris (Charing Cross Theatre, London)

Eve Polycarpou in stunning form. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Eve Polycarpou in stunning form. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Rating: ***

In A Nutshell

An entertaining revue, but too often forgets what it’s supposed to be celebrating.

Overview

Belgian chanson artist extraordinaire, Jacques Brel, is given a slick and sassy revue in the old Victorian music hall that is the Charing Cross Theatre, using songs that span the length of his career.

Music & Lyrics

Brel is not a singer songwriter that is widely known these days. I must confess that he’s not an artist that has featured in my life much, if at all. However, the show serves as a wonderful introduction to his work. Very “French” in style, his works are often dark and sarcastic, spiked with spite and disenfranchisement with the world. Particularly coming through is his anti-war sensibilities, having lived through the Second World War and other conflicts. But elsewhere there are deeply touching and beautifully doomed observations about life and love. Whilst his songs are extraordinary, what’s more so is the fact that they’ve unjustly disappeared from the psyche of modern culture.

Treatment

It’s bold and refreshing that Eric Blau and Mort Shuman have opted for a revue rather than the usual jukebox musical format. However, it’s risky as it means that the audience is going to be limited to those who are already aware of Brel’s work, or the more adventurous/curious of London’s theatre-going crowd. Thankfully, Brel’s pain and poetry is enough to hold your interest in lieu of a narrative.  Especially when songs are themed together to give the evening some form of structure, such as a section exploring Brel’s take on death and old age, to one grouping together his anti-war songs.

(left to right) David Burt, Eve Polycarpou, Gina Beck, and Daniel Boys. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

(left to right) David Burt, Eve Polycarpou, Gina Beck, and Daniel Boys. Photograph: Courtesy of Scott Rylander.

Direction & Production

Acclaimed director Andrew Keats takes the helm of this production. For starters, Chris de Wilde’s design evokes smoky dinge of a Parisian jazz club, giving the production an instant sense of chic, especially given Mike Robertson’s moody lighting design. Paul Gavin and James Nicholson’s video projections on the cyclorama are also a nice touch that subtly illustrate the songs, even if Brighton’s West Pier or an Underground train at Charing Cross station aren’t particularly Parisian.

However, whilst the songs and the performers certainly entertain, it too often seems like the entire production keeps forgetting just what it is it’s celebrating. Rather than revelling in the angsty and sardonic nature of the songs, many of them are played for laughs that just aren’t there, or worse throws Brel’s original context out the stage door with the bath water.

That’s not to say that these somewhat misinterpreted reinventions of Brel’s songs always fall flat. Numbers such as “Funeral Tango”, though loosing it’s original pathos, is still incredibly entertaining. But when it misses the mark, it does so spectacularly. The woeful 80’s rock setting of “My Death” is so outlandish and missing the point that it’s painful and embarrassing to sit through. Then there’s a completely misunderstood version of “Le Bourgeois”, titled and sung in English as “The Middle Class”, even though it’s clearly a song about the upper classes. Though it interestingly the production used it as a vehicle to try and send up the current crop of politicians, it’s point seemed muddled and lost in translation. And when Nigel Farage strides in unannounced, you start wonder about what the show’s trying to say with this song, and all is suddenly muddled and lost.

What works well is when Keats decides to stay close as close to Brel’s original intentions and emotions as possible. “Sons Of”, “Song for Old Lovers”, and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” are haunting moments of the evening and the only times when the production does any real justice to Brel’s work. Otherwise, as mostly amusing as the rest of the show is, it’s a show about Brel that doesn’t really get what Brel is about. If you take the time to listen to Brel’s performances of the songs on the set list, you soon realise just how far and how often off the mark the production is with his songs.

Cast

To go along with Keats misguided interpretations of Brel’s song is a cast that seem also as clueless about Brel’s intent as the production. Performances from some of the cast are unnecessary over-dramatic. There are times when pathos is turned into pantomime at the hands of some of the cast members, compounding this sense that the show doesn’t understand it’s own content. Eve Polycarpou is the only cast member that gets it consistently right. Her performances of “Sons Of” and “Ne Me Quitte Pas” are utterly spellbinding and heartbreaking. Compared to the others, she steals the show and you become a little impatient when she’s not on stage, wanting her to return to the spotlight with haste.

Verdict

Overall, the show is slick and entertaining. Even if you’re not complete aware of how important Brel was as a artist (like I was), you still get the sense of his depth and genius here. It’s just a shame that the show itself doesn’t fully comprehend it at times.

[youtube http://youtu.be/G4g9UScK0I4]

Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris plays at the Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL, until 31 October 2014. Tickets are £12 – £29.50. To book, visit www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.


Musical Review: Grim: A New Musical (Charing Cross Theatre, London)

Keeping Grim (Roseanna Christoforou, far right) company. Photograph: Scott Rylander.

Keeping Grim (Roseanna Christoforou, far right) company. Photograph: Scott Rylander.

Rating: **

Verdict

Certainly dark and daring, but significantly falls over its own ambition in its execution.

Overview

Grim is lonely. As she traverses the world taking the souls of those who die, she is mystified by human emotions. Therefore, in order to learn more about what makes mortals tick, she decides to become a student at an English school. However, there she meets Cupid. As he and Grim fall for each other, it creates a whole netherworld of problems, not the mention flaming the ire and superstition of the school’s pupils.

Book

Best-selling novelist and newspaper columnist, Fiona O’Malley, turns her efforts once more to musical theatre after the success of her previous show, The Daily Fail: The Musical. Unfortunately, sinking her teeth into a Gothic fairytale does not yield the same level of results. The plot rattles along, quick, improbable and too shallow even for a bedtime story. Nothing is ever fully explained or expanded, such as Cupid’s presence at the school and the logic behind his actions to be with Grim. The audience are just fed everything on face value and are expected to take it. Other narrative devices lead nowhere or fizzle out unsatisfactory. We just steam through full-speed, skimming the surface of what feels like could have been a properly paced and thought out musical. There’s potentially enough material here to last an entire full-length show. Instead, we get a quick fumble of around 90 minutes (including interval).

Furthermore, at one point I was left wondering who the show’s intended audience are as parts of it felt so much like a family-friendly show/school production. Dialogue is stilted and basic to the point of pantomime. If it weren’t for the overtures to euthanasia and characters donned in black hoods, whilst others dropped like flies, I felt I should have been accompanied by a child and dishing out pick ‘n’ mix to those sat next to me.

However, you can’t fault O’Malley for being bold in her remit. Whilst what she’s written completely hasn’t worked in practise, throughout you can peer a little into what she was setting out to achieve: a romantic and slick new musical for generation Twilight. It’s just a shame her earnest ambition has nowhere near paid off in that she’s unable to come up with the panache and substance for this to have been a successful venture.

Music and Lyrics

The lyrics are dreadful. It’s pretty much a sing-what-you-see-but-make-sure-it-rhymes approach. It’s completely devoid of any poetry or inventive language, let alone any wit and intelligence, making the songs a real trial to sit through. If you’re not bored, you’re wincing at clumsy couplets. O’Malley absolutely needs to employ a proper lyricist.

Musically, composer Joseph Alexander produces an incredibly rich and full orchestral score, which complex choral writing to match, produced using some very high quality samples. He riffs very comfortably somewhere between Danny Elfman and Camille Saints-Saens, effortlessly giving the show the dark fairytale vibe that it aims for. Unfortunately the majority of the music is just too unwieldy. It’s technically very well put together, with things like the by-the-book quartet of previous numbers that come together to cumulate in the Act I finale. But there are seldom any tunes or motifs that have a hook. It meanders around a vague musical theme and offers little with any meat on to enjoy. The whole thing feels more like one long recitative, as if Tim Burton had hurriedly scribbled out an opera. It’s a shame, because one song, “I Wished For Someone Like You”, is the only song in the entire production that feels like a song from a musical: lilting, sweet, and catchy.

Georgi Mottram (left) as Amelia, and Roseanna Christoforou (right) as Grim. Photograph: Scott Rylander.

Georgi Mottram (left) as Amelia, and Roseanna Christoforou (right) as Grim. Photograph: Scott Rylander.

Direction and Production

Anna Driftmier’s set might look sparse, but it leaves plenty of room for the large cast to go about their business. It’s design is simple yet effective: nothing but a painted gauze tab centre stage. Her imposing Gothic wrought-iron gates of the school is all the show really needs, with nothing else but props and Jack Weir’s lighting design plotting out the scene and atmosphere. So much more could have been done on the generous stage of the Charing Cross Theatre, but it’s great to have a production team who know that it’s best to just do what is needed rather than what’s possible.

On the other hand, within the space afforded by Driftmier, director Adam Wollerton and choreographers Adam Jay-Price and Sam Lathwood manage to make the stage feel cramped and crowded. Wollerton constantly seems to want to use as much space as possible, making the full 20+ cast vie for space. Everything else is squished downstage. There’s no use of depth here or appreciation of the space: it’s very basic direction without flair or ingenuity.

This isn’t helped by the choreography. All the actions and moves are too big and over the top. As well as making the show look like a school disco dancing troupe, the gestures employed are so grandiose that it sometimes forces some of the non-dancing actors to hug the edges of the set for fear of getting smacked in the face by a pair of errant jazz hands or over enthusiastic high kick. It, like a lot else in this production, lacks any thought or refinement; it’s brazen and hyperactive with little art or consideration.

Cast

The only cast member that’s worth mentioning is Roseanna Christoforou in the show’s titular role. Even thought she’s not given much to go on from the text, she’s makes the very best of what’s she’s been handed. She effortlessly portrays Grim’s steely inertia and endearing ignorance of human world foibles without managing to make Grim come across two dimensional. Ironically, she feels the most human out of all the cast. What’s more, Christoforou has a fantastic voice which she still manages to make shine through the lack-lustre score, pricking up you ears to her presence whenever she sings.

Verdict

As unsatisfying as this show is, there are still flits here and there of the DNA of something that could be so much better. It’s certainly bold, original, and ambitious: O’Malley has an idea born from an imagination that could have struck gold, and Alexander demonstrates that he’s a talented orchestrator and composer who can write at least one good tune. But in execution, it dies on stage along with several of the characters. Unless you really want to see this, Grim: A New Musical lives up to its moniker.

Grim: A New Musical plays at the Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL, until 30 August 2014. Tickets are £10 – £19.50. To book, visit www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.


Theatre Review: The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner (Charing Cross Theatre, London)

A fistful of fun. Neil Henry (left) and Josh Haberfield (right). Photograph: courtesy of the production.

A fistful of fun. Neil Henry (left) and Josh Haberfield (right). Photograph: courtesy of the production.

Rating: ***

It’s getting very close to Halloween, and the Charing Cross Theatre is offering not one, but two ghostly goings on. If you happen to make it to Afraid of the Dark, then why not stay for the theatre’s later show, The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner for some more light-hearted creeps as a show that sits somewhere halfway between The 39 Steps and The Woman in Black.

Following on from its success in Edinburgh, the late-night show makes it to London for a run through October right into the dank of November. Crossing farce with Grand Guignol, it’s a spritely little piece.

There are more than a few hilarious moments and Tim Downie’s writing balances creativity against the usual standard farce fare. Even though all the usual suspects are there, from battering down of the fourth wall to long running on-cue sound effect jokes, there are plenty of new and unexpected gags which really make the show. Downie also does a great job at knowingly penning this “budget” show, making nods to Martin Thomas’ bare essentials set, whilst director Anthony Coleridge makes good use of what isn’t there by filling the stage with action and imagination, despite there being only two boxes and four actors to play around with.

But like a lot of farce, it’s very difficult to either not descend into being too silly and/or let the comic pace drop too suddenly. Downie’s writing lets both of these happen in places, causing the show to drag a little. Also, a handful of the jokes are either a little too obscure or referential, meaning at points you know you’re supposed to be laughing but not quite sure why. But with the amount of original and strong material elsewhere means these never fatally mar the production.

The cast are also strong, including magician and According to Bex star Neil Henry, although he, Josh Haberfield, and Anil Desai wander into being a touch too over the top at times. But it’s fresh-out-of-acting school, Harriette Sym, who delivers her role with prefect comic tone and timing.

It does seem a little harsh to give this production only three stars, because it’s certainly above average. But when compared with some of the other long running comedy shows in London like One Man, Two Guvnors and The 39 Steps (from which it lovingly shares a few gags) it doesn’t quite measure up, although it’s not far off. But none the less, on a budget and for a late-night tickling of your funny bone, as far as comedy horror theatre goes this show is ghoulish, giggly, and goosey good fun.

The Curse of Elizabeth Faulkner runs at the Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL, until 23 November 2013. Tickets are £17.00. To book, visit www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.


Theatre Review: WAG! The Musical (Charing Cross Theatre, London)

WAG-ger swagger! From left to right: Nia Jermin, Alyssa Kyria, Pippa Fulton, and Lizzie Cundy. Photograph: Courtesy of Kevin Wilson PR.

WAG-ger swagger! From left to right: Nia Jermin, Alyssa Kyria, Pippa Fulton, and Lizzie Cundy. Photograph: Courtesy of Kevin Wilson PR.

Rating: ***

WAGs: the pseudo-celebrities you love to hate. Armed with silicon tits and lipo-legs, they’re here to snatch up those premiership footballers and live off their hard-earned millions. On the face of it, these glamorous gold-diggers seem like an unlikely subject for a musical, and with the promotional material ablaze in hot pink with stilettoed stunners, it looks like it could succeed only on the back of being a guilty pleasure, or perhaps the so-bad-its-good factor. But thankfully Belvedere Pashun’s book is actually something that surprisingly has depth and demeanour for something that looks shamelessly sassy; so do away with all your preconceptions made from the posters.

For starters, calling the show WAG! The Musical is a slight misnomer as the main characters are two down-and-out shop girls selling cheap make-up in a grubby London department store (think Debenhams, but with less dignity). However, one of them, Jenny (Daisy Wood-Davis), is set to run off with her own premiership footballer to Italy as his bit on the side. Cue a high-profile make-up launch at the store with a bevy of WAGs in tow, and the musical turns to discussing the pros, cons, and morality of what WAGs do best, and causing a right old riot in the process. The WAGs themselves are mere mechanicals in this kitsch analysis of modern femininity and relationships.

Highly billed for the show are; West End staple (and first American to have ever won an Olivier Award), Tim Flavin, as the sneering and snivelling overlord/manager of the cosmetics department; real life WAG-cum-TV presenter, Lizzie Cundy, as WAG-cum-TV presenter, Zoe; and singer-cum-WAG, Pippa Fulton, as bitchy full-time WAG, Vicci. Whilst all of them hold themselves well, the latter two ladies slipping into their WAG roles with playful and knowing ease, it’s lead Wood-Davis that really turns out to be the star of the show. Great comic performances also come from Katie Kerr as common and frumpy wannabe glamour-puss Blow-Jo, and Welsh Wag, Charmaine, played by Nia Jermin.

Wood-Davis really captures Jenny’s hopeless-romantic and hapless dreamer personality with a cute charm and grace. Although her character is hardly Lady Macbeth in terms of complexity, she strikes the right balance between dippy and downtrodden. But her singing is what is particularly stunning. Her big solo number, “How Could I Not Leave A Scar”, was belted out with a ferocity and panache that made it into an absolute showstopper.

However, there are a few things that hold the show back from being great, despite Alison Pollard’s slick and energetic direction and choreography, and Ken Powell’s bright and colourful costumes. The songs aren’t particularly memorable, bar a few such as Wood-Davis’s aforementioned solo, and cheeky lambast of going under the knife, “Original Me”. The rest seems to be something stuck in the shadows of Jonathan Larson’s Rent! and Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening. In fact, “Always Tomorrow” sounds as it was plucked straight from Larson’s celebrated La bohème pastiche, leaving you a little uninspired rather than it being the epiphanous rouser it’s trying to be.

Although the depth to the narrative comes as a surprise to the campy gloss of the promotionals, it does sap the energy a little from the first act. It just doesn’t quite have the spark of frivolity that it needs, even if Flavin does end up in a rather saucy samba outfit at one point! Furthermore, the portrait of domestic violence, an attempt at being a little bit topical and smart, is so simplistic that a more gender aware crowd might find it a little offensive, despite the fact that Pashun clearly means well. Also, as far as climaxes go, the plot is overall quite predictable.

It’s only when comedian Alyssa Kyria comes in during Act II, as her acclaimed character, Ariadne the Greek WAG, that the show really picks up. Writing her scenes herself as additional material to the book, she is absolutely hilarious, injecting the hedonism and humour that was missing from Act I. While she’s a brilliant addition to the show, it’s a shame that she ends up stealing it. It says a lot about the calibre of the writing when you realise that a single personality, Kyria’s, is what really drives the musical home.

On press night, too, there were problems with sound balance, and a lack of the sense of ensemble and intonation among the cast. Either there are issues with the feedback speakers (which would easily account for the discrepancies), or they just need more rehearsing. Either way, it’s not quite becoming of such a high-profile opening with a red-carpet arrival, paparazzi, and celebrities such as Vanessa Feltz and Anita Dobson in the audience, and does a disservice to Pollard’s snazzy production.

But criticisms aside, ultimately WAG! The Musical is far from bad; in fact it’s alright. Despite its flaws, it’s a fun frolic that breezily resists becoming bawdy, tawdry, and dumbed-down dross: actually having a smack of thought behind it. It’s not quite Prada, but it’s certainly not Primarni! WAG! The Musical is a jaunty and sparkly summer theatrical diversion that will bring a smile to your face.

WAG! The Musical plays at the Charing Cross Theatre, London, WC2N 6NL, until 24 August 2013. Tickets are £14.50-£44.50. To book, visit www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.