Review: Zorro – the Musical, Charing Cross Theatre

Despite some entertainingly good dance work, Zorro – the Musical just isn’t quite camp enough for me at the Charing Cross Theatre

“Take a breath and count to three
Or maybe ten”

Zorro – the Musical first played the West End in 2008, a touch before I’d started blogging properly but being in love with pretty much everything Emma Williams does, I’m familiar with the show’s cast recording, especially the beautiful ‘Falling‘. The show now returns to London at the Charing Cross Theatre in a fitfully vibrant production from Christian Durham.

The show marries a book from Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson, further adapted by John Cameron, with the back catalogue of the Gipsy Kings, with lyrics from Clark and co-compositions from Cameron. And it fashions a rather old-fashioned tale of fraternal angst and derring-do-in-a-cape in 1800s Los Angeles. With added flamenco. And fire, lots of fire.

It’s a musical that certainly has its moments. ‘Bamboléo’ is one of those earworms that has sunk into the national consciousness and it is an epic number here which Cressida Carré’s choreography enhances wonderfully. And there’s a good deal of corny comedy which Marc Pickering’s Sergeant Garcia and Phoebe Panaretos’ Inez nail.

But as it is stretches past two and a half hours, you can’t help wish that it was all a bit more fun. Nothing everything has to be camper than Carmen Miranda’s headdress but the more serious-minded sections here are terribly po-faced as brothers Diego and Ramon face off for the right to wear a mask (or something) with a gravitas that never really lands.

Benjamin Purkiss and Alex Gibson-Giorgio are both good but both face their challenges. Purkiss’ goofball Diego is effective but as masked hero Zorro, less so. And Gibson-Giorgio has to work hard to find tortured depth in a script not always willing to let the villain be dark enough. Paige Fenlon’s powerfully voiced Luisa shines though, and Panaretos is so good you wish the show was called Inez instead.

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Pamela Raith Photography
Zorro – the Musical is booking at the Charing Cross Theatre until 28th May

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