- July 11, 2018
There was a tangible air of disappointment as the announcement was made that Matt Lucas was unwell – but not for long. There are moments in the theatre where the deployment of an understudy is unavoidable – and occasionally a star is born. Last night was one such moment as Ryan Pidgen stepped up to the mark and exceeded it. This was a characterful performance, full of charm, comedy and skill. The guy can sing, dance and act and it was hard to see that he could be bettered, Mr Lucas has some very big shoes to fill when he is recovered.
But all this is just a part of an extremely good evening of classic musical theatre, a period piece delivered with respect to the style and era but at the same time embracing the new with some very exacting and exciting choreography, a fine set and lighting and an exemplary company.
Alex young is a delightful Sally with great comic timing balanced with a pitch perfect voice, even when truly acting a number, she is bang on every note, emotionally delivering her numbers in a way that few can.
And who knew that Caroline Quentin could both sing and dance, her ‘stately as a galleaon’ performance as the Duchess Maria was full voiced and light footed. Of course she can deliver the gags and the drama, but the rest was a revelation and one has to hope to see her do more of the same in the future.
Jennie Dale’s Parchester is a bizarre but beautifully realised creation with a powerful voice and huge range, I rather enjoyed the odd gender ambiguity on display here, and Clive Row as SIr John Tremayne had that delightful combination of clumsy gravitas spiked with some of the best comic moment the show has to offer. Siubhan Harrison gets the very best out her role as the sultry sexual predator Lady Jacqueline, determined to get the money whatever, or should I say whoever she needs to ‘do’.
As for the rest, some great character roles, lots of great singing, although early on the large ensemble numbers lacked a clarity of diction, and plenty of fun. This was balanced by some beautifully staged moments, in particular a nightmare ballet sequence set to Leaning on a Lampost, who would have thought that could work, and tap dancing suits of armour too? There are plenty of witty and deft musical gags too, a splash of G&S and a delightful slice of the theme from Brideshead Revisited, the classic ITV version, put a wide grin on my face.
Chichester has a golden touch when it comes to musical revivals and this year is no exception, a crowd pleasing show to suit all ages. Oi!
Chichester Festival Theatre