Any new musical must bring cause for celebration, and so I approached this one with some interest. First planned as a stage production and billed as “the world’s first theremin musical”, Falling in Love With Mr Dellamort has now resurfaced as a three episode podcast directed by Ella Jane New, and with orchestrations by Lena Gabrielle.
Written by Jack Feldstein and Paul Doust., Falling in Love With Mr Dellamort owes much to musicals which have preceded it, notably The Rocky Horror Show, Jekyll & Hyde, Randy Newman’s Faust, Phantom of the Opera and Little Shop of Horrors. It is part mystery, part horror, as a cavernous house plays host to the mysterious Mr Dellamort (“I’m to die for”) and his guests.
Like Dracula and Frank ‘n’ Furter before him, the mysterious Mr D sucks the souls from his unexpecting guests by his very potent charisma and innate charm. He is played by James Monroe Iglehart, a former Genie in Aladdin and Lafayette in Hamilton, with a touch of style and panache, and a playful wickedness.
It should be noted here that in this musical the theremin is the primary instrument in the score. If you have heard this most curious of sounds (“conducted through the air”), perhaps in the original theme to TV’s Midsomer Murders, you will know it has its own sense of intrigue and the bizarre. It is a very good choice for a tale as unusual as this one, sending literal shivers down the spine.
Where Falling in Love With Mr Dellamort does not quite succeed is with the narration (by Gavin Lee). Stepping away from the ‘less is more’ and ‘show not tell’ mantras, there is too much exposition and description which sometimes clogs up the story, especially in the first act introductions. Pull this back slightly and the songs are quite able to tell their own story, if the creators would only let them.
Does it fall into the cult musical style of the likes of Eugenius? It is certainly silly enough, but perhaps too silly to really gel with that crowd. I was left wondering why Sue Grimshaw (a sardonic Courtney Reed) was even at Maison Dellamort, let alone whether she would fall in love with the man she treats with such initial disdain. The other guests are a mixed bag of overfamiliar tropes: the horny cougar (Jackie Hoffman), the gay gym bunnie (Telly Leung), the drug addict (Lena Hall).
There are catchy songs here, as befits a tale which is just a bit devilish. I enjoyed rock chick Hall”s Bad Girl, and there are strong pop-rock numbers throughout. You can of course enjoy the cast album on its own, taking out the narration and speech, and both options can be accessed at https://www.dellamortmusical.com/.