Tag Archives: adelphi theatre

Waitress (Adelphi Theatre)

With a week to press night, Waitress is proving to have the makings of another hit from across the pond.

Based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 film, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, this new musical centres on Jenna (Katharine McPhee) and her two fellow waitresses at Joe’s Diner.

Katharine McPhee, Laura Baldwin and Marisha Wallace.Photo credit Johan Persson.

Katharine McPhee, Laura Baldwin and Marisha Wallace. Photo credit Johan Persson.

Jenna is unhappily stuck in a marriage made when she and Earl (Peter Hannah) were both too young and foolish: now he belittles her gifts and takes her money.

Becky (Marisha Wallace) cares for a sick husband and finds knee-trembling fun on the side with her boss Cal (Stephen Leask), while nerdy Dawn (Laura Baldwin) finds love with the proposterous amateur magician Okie (Jack McBrayer).

When Jenna finds herself pregnant after a night of drunk sex with the husband she loathes, it is a catalyst both for her retreat into dreamy recipes she creates for all situations, and a stab at happiness with her married doctor (David Hunter).

Jack McBrayer and Marisha Wallace

Jack McBrayer and Marisha Wallace. Photo credit Johan Persson

The first act is largely comic, despite the spectre of domestic violence. Dawn and Okie’s courtship gives us a lot of fun, and Becky’s sass has free reign.

By the second act, we see Jenna and Becky more clearly, even Cal, who states he is “happy enough”. And old Joe (Shaun Prendergast) is the bringer of fairy dust and happy endings of the kind that just don’t happen in real life.

Katharine McPhee. Photo credit Johan Persson.

Katharine McPhee. Photo credit Johan Persson.

With a score which manages to be both witty and at times, emotionally engaging (Jenna’s big number “She Used To Be Mine”), Waitress is a welcome addition to the musical scene.

It feels almost churlish to have misgivings about some plot points around female empowerment, infidelity and obsession, but they stop this show just short of being perfect.

Last night there was a slight mishap early on with a missing piece of pie, deftly handled in character by all; and there are on-set jokes around the names of pies to amuse in a normal run.

Waitress continues at the Adelphi and is booking until the 19th October 2019.


Kinky Boots (Adelphi)

One of the best new musicals in years is currently playing at the Adelphi Theatre, where Killian Donnelly’s shoe baron reboots his failing family business with the help of the outrageous Lola (Matt  Henry), a raucous drag queen with a thing for red and sexy boots (‘The Sex is in the Heel’ being one of the showstopping songs).

Charlie (Donnelly) and Lola/Simon are both introduced in a powerhouse opening number (‘The Most Beautiful Thing in the World’), first as children, then as the young adults they have become – this works well, and Cyndi Lauper’s driving pop score sets the scene for a totally feel-good production.

Based on the popular film, itself loosely based on the real Northampton factory which sold fetish footwear successfully for some years, Harvey Fierstein’s book fleshes out the role of Lola, whose solo Act 2 number ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ and duet with Charlie (‘I’m Not My Father’s Son’) are emotionally engaging.

The numbers with Lola and her Angels are dragtastic which secondary characters like Lauren and Don have their own chances to shine.  You’ll know from the start that Charlie’s engagement to materialistic Nicola is doomed, and that there will be an Act 2 showdown, but the ending is life-affirming and touching.

Matt Henry in particular is a revelation – but I liked Amy Lennox as man-mad Lauren, Jamie Baughan as macho Don, and Michael Dobbs as sensible factory man George.  Donnelly’s character arc is not that believable but that doesn’t matter too much.

A gloriously fun night in the theatre which I would love to see again.

Theatre review: Sweeney Todd, Adelphi Theatre, London

A hit at the Chichester Festival last year, this new production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical ‘Sweeney Todd’, starring Michael Ball, Imelda Staunton, Jason Manford (covering as Pirelli for a month), John Bowe, Peter Polycarpou, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Lucy May Barker, Luke Brady, and Jason McConville, looks sumptuously high-budget and lives up to the hype which followed it to London.

Ball is a gifted musical tenor with many leading roles to his name including Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, Marius in Les Miserables, Giorgio in Passion. Here, in a role written for a singer with a lower register, he acquits himself well and seems to relish playing a multi-faceted villain, with mad delight in dispatching his customers to the bakehouse below, as well as being a good comic foil to the slightly desperate Mrs Lovett (Staunton, who is excellent in a role still associated firmly with Angela Lansbury).

Elsewhere in the cast John Bowe misfires a bit as Judge Turpin – he’s a fine actor, but not right here, and certainly no singer. Polycarpou however, himself a veteran of many musicals, notably Miss Saigon, is delightful as the Beadle, particularly in the Tower of Bray sequence, where the Beadle, Mrs Lovett, and the hidden Toby make a funny, if bleak, trio. As Toby Jason McConville is convincing and acts his part very well, especially in the final scenes.

For me, the character of Joanna always seems to be a weak link, and here is no exception. I don’t think there is any way to save a song about a Green Linnet, and Lucy May Barker’s soprano is just that bit too high at points – although in her favour she does exude the right amount of innocence and desperation as her situation becomes clear to her. Luke Brady is a fairly impressive Anthony, while Gillian Kirkpatrick’s pivotal role is beautifully played, making her heartbreaking at the conclusion.

The previous production I saw of Sweeney Todd was at the Oldham Coliseum, starring Emile Belcourt in the lead and directed by Paul Kerryson. I’ve had happy memories of it ever since. This new Todd has had money lavished on it to make it more of a spectacular – the set is on three levels and also has a section which moves out to stage front, and also uses trapdoors to good effect – and it will remain in my memory for a long time. As for Michael Ball, I look forward to seeing him in many more challenging roles as he goes into the peak years of his career, no longer a juvenile lead.

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