A fantastic revival of the Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields musical comes to the small stage of the Donmar, directed by Josie Rourke and choreographed by Wayne McGregor.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the casting of Anne-Marie Duff in the lead role of Charity Hope Valentine, but despite her vocal limitations in some of the songs she really shines in the role and perfectly encapsulates the dance hall hostess who has dreams of finding love.
In a varied and sparkling score, the staging of Big Spender, Rich Man’s Frug, There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This, I’m a Brass Band and I Love To Cry At Weddings stand out, and the company seem to be really enjoying the show and the ambience.
In the cameo role of Daddy Brubeck, Beverley Knight makes a quick impact with Rhythm of Life, while Arthur Darvill makes the most of the role of nervy Oscar.
The dance-hall hostesses are well-portrayed by Lizzy Connolly, Debbie Kurup, Amy Ellen Richardson, Charlotte Jaconelli, Jo Eaton-Kent, Danielle Steers, and Lauren Drew, who also double effectively across other roles and sequences.
Martin Marquez is also fun as the vain movie idol Vittorio Vidal, surrounded by Warhol-type paintings of himself and living off past screen glories.
With clever use of props like the plastic container lake, a swing, neon lights, an OHP, and stepladders, locations which range from a park to Coney Island to an elevator are quickly evoked, and the performers put their all into vibrant and perceptive choreography.
This is a joyous show which still manages to get the audience’s sympathy for the hapless and idealistic Charity, and the set design by Robert Jones with its greys and silvers and general air of tackiness fits the theme.