Review: Soho Cinders, Charing Cross Theatre

This amiable revival of Soho Cinders makes for an alternative festive treat at the Charing Cross Theatre

“Hoping for the hum-drum,
Is that aiming high”

I have great affection for Stiles & Drewe’s musical Soho Cinders, from its concert beginnings to a starry Soho Theatre production to a warm revival at the Union Theatre, its escapist fun nature and tuneful score remain quietly appealing. And it is that last Union production that has been reconceived for a new run at the Charing Cross Theatre, featuring some of the same cast members and beefed up with newcomers from Six and Jamie.

The show is a loose LGBT+ adaptation of the Cinderella story, updated to a contemporary London setting, albeit an improbably affordable and innocent pre-smartphone age. Robbie is a young man struggling to make ends meet with his Old Compton Street laundrette and consequently dallying with a sugar daddy, despite simultaneously hooking up with prospective mayoral candidate James Prince, who just happens to have a fiancée. It’s a daft plot but amiable, even if it doesn’t bear too much close scrutiny (clandestine meetings in Trafalgar Square?!). Continue reading “Review: Soho Cinders, Charing Cross Theatre”

Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre

“You won’t get that out a book on prison procedure
When those suits get caught on the hook, that’s when they need ya”

Bad Girls ran for eight years on ITV, covering the whole gamut of women’s prison storylines from the sublime to the senseless, and now the women of HMP Larkhall live on in Bad Girls the Musical, written by original creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts. Taking many of the characters and fashioning its own story from a range of plotlines across the lifetime of the show, Will Keith’s production for the Union makes for an effective translation from screen to stage.

Perhaps naturally, given the size of the 17-strong company and the number of introductions that thus need to be made (even for those familiar with the TV show), the main thrust of the story takes a little time to come into focus. The corrupt practices of prison officer Jim Fenner, fond of doling out privileges in return for sexual favours, eventually crystallises the motives of the diverse cast of inmates but there’s also the slow burning relationship between lifer Nikki and reformist governor Helen that adds to a book which may seem slight but is ultimately dramatically satisfying.  Continue reading “Review: Bad Girls the Musical, Union Theatre”

Review: Andy Capp The Musical, Finborough Theatre

“I ought to be ashamed of myself”

So sings Andy Capp throughout his eponymous turn in Andy Capp The Musical, a knowing nod to thoroughly misogynistic nature of the character and its unremitting political incorrectness. And it is this that emerges as the strangest thing about making a musical out of him, rather than the fact that it is based on a feather-light comic strip by Reg Smythe that has long blessed the pages of the Daily Mirror. For the show emerges as something really rather charming, even whilst Capp remains thoroughly unreconstructed.

A workshy native of Hartlepool, where he’s managed over 30 years without a job, Capp chooses instead to rely on wife Flo’s earnings for his considerable beer money, lavishing more attention on his racing pigeons than her. With illustrated stories that are generally just three panels long, Trevor Peacock’s book thus has to open out the story to the friends and neighbours around them, counterpointing a flashpoint of marital strife with the forthcoming nuptials of Capp’s nephew Elvis and the lovely Raquel. And this it does well. Continue reading “Review: Andy Capp The Musical, Finborough Theatre”