- November 6, 2018
As musicals go this is something of an odd beast. Based on a film that was not really a musical but
more a story with songs, the stage version is victim to having in fact only a fraction of those original
tunes. As a consequence it seems very different and in fact is very different, parts of the plot
changed or even lost. It is of course supplemented by new songs, some good and some… well
let’s leave it at that.
Of course the whole is totally dependent on an excellent company and this was very good indeed.
The dance numbers were vibrant and beautifully delivered although at times one felt that some of
the larger leaps might well have been landed in the suburbs due to the restrictive scale of the stage
and a design that clearly was not geared to that. That was possibly the reason for the very late
curtain up. When will producers and designers acknowledge that you cannot fit a pint into the very
beautiful half pint pot that is Theatre Royal Brighton?
The songs too were delivered with power and conviction but here the whole lost something from
being too, too loud and larded with excessive reverb from the sound desk – with talented and
powerful performers like this why do they need to be pumped up electronically?
Oddly the drama worked far better in the second half, it was then that we really saw the conflicts of
adolescent angst, the fragility of ego and of awakening youth and it was best served by a stunning
performance as Schlomo by Simon Anthony. Equally moving was Spehanie Rojas’ heartbreaking
decline as Carmen. And boy can Jamal Kane Crawford dance!
At the heart of the story the thread also runs of the conflict of academic study against arts, the
belief that to be creative you have to earn the right to express it by being academically proficient
too? How sad it is that for those in the creative world that what you do is only valued on the level of
“being good at colouring in”!
Finally a few words about Mica Paris who takes on the tough role of Miss Sherman, the academic
vigilante. She brought to the role a real power, bad ass, tough and seemingly unforgiving until, yes
a big number, and what a number, the best song of the night and delivered with both skill, passion
and real soul. Miss Paris unleashed her inner diva to prove that she truly is a star, show stopping
Despite its flaws this is a great night of entertainment, a stage filled with exceptional musical
talents, a story that eventually reveals its heart, although the slim gay thread seemed utterly thrown
away and at best confusing – why I ask? All in all though, great to see such well honed energy
from a very accomplished cast.
Theatre Royal Brighton