Review: Jerry’s Girls, Menier Chocolate Factory

Jerry Herman’s music deserves better than this production of Jerry’s Girls at the Menier Chocolate Factory

“My pace is frantic
my temper’s cross”

To quote a different composer, how do you solve a problem like the Menier? Its recent scattershot programming has left it highly unpredictable and rarely essential, a sad state of affairs for a venue with such bona fides, particularly where musical theatre is concerned. Jerry’s Girls is at least an improvement on the previous show there but still felt like a over-extended disappointment to me.

Revue shows are a tricky beast to get right, the filleting of a composer’s ‘best’ songs from their context, lumping them together and hoping for the best seeming to be the route most often taken. Jerry Herman is the subject (or victim) here, with shows like MameHello Dolly!Dear World, Mack & Mabel and La Cage Aux Folles all getting their brief moment in the spotlight.

There’s stone-cold classics aplenty in there, but Hannah Chissick’s production doesn’t always serve to show them in their best light. A staging choice which shows as underpowered in Paul Farnsworth’s design feels far too fringey for these ticket prices, the sound design is well out of whack for such a small space, the potential in where Matt Cole’s choreography could have gone rests unexplored.

Cassidy Janson, Jessica Martin and Julie Yammanee deliver strong performances but there’s a tendency to the overly strident (not sure the miking really helps) rather than emphasising the delicate interplay between their voices which when it does come, is utterly gorgeous. I’d hold on for the arrival of Hello, Dolly! to be honest, and pray for The Baker’s Wife.

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