Review: She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible

A top cast make She Loves Me a stylishly enjoyable festive treat at the Sheffield Crucible

“Why break someone in
when I’m already broken”

The Crucible may not be the first theatre to turn to She Loves Me for a festive treat – the Menier did the same back in 2016 – but this Sheffield version more than matches that twinkling production with its own brand of Northern charm. Based on Miklós László’s play Parfumerie which has been remade more than once as films like The Shop Around The Corner and You’ve Got Mail, this musical treatment (book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick) finds its own bittersweet flavour.

We’re definitely in rom-com territory here, as warring Budapest shop employees Georg Nowack and Amalia Balash rub each other up the wrong way, little knowing that they are corresponding anonymously through a lonely hearts column. Will they get to rub each other up the right way? Whaddya think! But there’s a minor-key backdrop too which keeps things from ever getting too sweet, a note of sadness that tempers all the musical theatre frivolity as it presents us with the downs as well as the ups of life. Continue reading “Review: She Loves Me, Sheffield Crucible”

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the musicals edition

Since it is the season of goodwill to all men, I’m not going to belabour the point that it is a shame that ‘musicals’ have been lumped together as a category here, whereas the likes of Pinter and Kane got their own specials, whither Sondheim, Herman and Tesori. Still, it’s lovely as ever to stretch back over years of musical theatre productions to see some of Tristram Kenton’s most iconic shots for the Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2020/dec/02/musicals-on-stage-in-pictures-tristram-kenton

Photos: Tristram Kenton

Review: West Side Story, Curve

No doubt about it, Nikolai Foster’s production of West Side Story for Curve Leicester is damn close to musical theatre perfection

“Could it be, yes it could
something’s comin’, something good”

The Royal Exchange may have gotten there first this year but Nikolai Foster’s production of West Side Story for Leicester’s Curve proves an absolute triumph. Going down a similar route of featuring brand-new choreography, here by Ellen Kane, the familiar becomes something refreshing and new and hugely emotionally satisfying. From its opening moments which set the anti-immigrant tone like never before, through Musical Supervisor Sarah Travis’ incredible treatment of this iconic Bernstein score, to Kane’s sensational set-pieces which fill every inch of the Curve’s stage, this is damn close to musical theatre perfection.

It works so well because for all of the epic sweep of its Romeo and Juliet-inspired story, this is a very intimate reading of it. Jamie Muscato and Adriana Ivelisse really are exceptional as the ill-fated lovers Tony and Maria, delivering an unforced chemistry that is sweetness personified. Theirs is a heady, instant passion that feels so natural as to be entirely captivating. Their flirting is delicately but determinedly done – there’s no mistaking what ‘Tonight’ holds here – and something ignites in them when together. And as understated as their acting is, magic happens when they start to sing. Muscato’s ‘Maria’ is as good as I’ve ever heard in my life, as natural as breathing and then taken up to the heavens with a touch of wonder with his deeply expressive tenor. And Ivelisse’s thrilling soprano imbues ‘I Feel Pretty’ with just the right amount of character to refresh its familiar rhymes. Continue reading “Review: West Side Story, Curve”