The Musical of Musicals
Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, until Saturday (April 8))
Reviewer: Peter McGarry
IF you don’t know your musical theatre, this would be like being at a party where you don’t share the in-joke.
On the other hand, if you can tell your fringe-topped surreys from your fearsome phantoms you might well savour having the insight.
Here we have four brilliant actor-singers performing their hearts out on a convoluted concoction of mock show songs linked by a slender thread and teetering on the edge of recognition. As the hills come alive, the informed consumer is clearly invited to climb every mountain.
It’s clever stuff, without a doubt. To what degree it verges on clever-dickery rather depends on what tickles your fancy.
Of the five sections devoted to specific composers, the Lloyd Webber bit comes nearest to generally accessible humour with its visual jokes about subterranean opera house waterways, roller skaters and a faded movie star diva. The rest? Well, the opening lyric along the lines of ‘oh what beautiful corn’ sets the pattern. And what follows is often heavily over-stated.
But director Steve Smith and choreographer Clive Bennett work well to keep things moving and the players, Kim Arnold, Kenny Robinson, Kevin Wing and Val Whitlock, all clearly having a ball, display superb individual ability.
It would be great to see them all in something of real artistic substance.