“Everyone loves a bit of filth”
I really enjoyed Mrs Henderson Presents when I saw it last year in Bath, it came 13th out of all the shows I saw in 2015, so I was most delighted to hear that it would be transferring into the West End. It managed the journey with its main cast almost entirely intact, Tracie Bennett, Ian Bartholomew and Emma Williams all there, just Mark Hadfield dipping out to (re)join The Painkiller and replaced by Jamie Foreman, and its opening at the Noël Coward Theatre has been largely very well received.
And second time around, it pleased me just as much as the first. Terry Johnson’s direction of this ineffably British show (as with Andy Capp, playing the spoons is up there with the Union Jack) and from my memory, I don’t think that much has significantly changed (though I’ve seen a lot in the intervening 7 months…). That means that the shonky narrator/compere role is still there, which still wears thin quickly, but it also means that its generosity of spirit and warmth of heart is very much present.
I’d forgotten just how heart-stoppingly beautiful so many moments are in the show. Mrs Henderson’s memory of the man she truly loved gaining corporeal form, Emma Williams and Matthew Malthouse tripping the light fantastic in Andrew Wright’s brilliant choreography, the confidence that grows in the women who gain a strange form of empowerment. And there was more too – Lizzy Connolly is now firmly on my radar after her show-stealing turn in Xanadu and I appreciated her much more this time round and I’ll be darned if Samuel Holmes isn’t peachier than ever…!
It’s always pleasurable to see a new British musical in the West End and even if it is one based on a film, the commercial sense here is one that can’t be denied, especially when it comes to the risk-averse ticket-buying public. Mrs Henderson Presents remains a joyous piece of theatre, I’d get along there pretty sharpish whilst it remains in such good shape.