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Funny Girl. Two stars.

July 23, 2016

Funny GirlI know every professional review gives it four or five stars. And I think it would probably have been better in the more intimate Menier where it started off, but the Savoy is hardly huge. The main trouble is the story is crap. Sheridan Smith (now back in role) is great at what she has to work with, but it is trite, predictable, old fashioned and underdeveloped. Her character (Fanny Brice) is not really likeable. I didn’t give a shit about what happened to her. There were hardly any hard times for us to see her struggle against adversity; one good number where she is a crap chorus girl and one song about “If you ain’t pretty like Miss Atlantic City, then give up”. And her then telling everyone how fantastic she is which to be honest isn’t  very endearing. But she seemingly got a break straight away and then came on to do a number which I honestly thought was meant to show her bombing. How is flashing bloomers funny? But apparently  everybody loved it so she became the star of the show. Her mother and two friends do various numbers well enough, as does her suave lover, but it is tired.It’s not a musical with anything new to offer, or to excite. It felt like we were watching a school production, albeit a good one. Smith is good – and her comedic song as a bride really well delivered, but it wasn’t enough for us to come back for the second half. She’s wasted in this role and deserves better.

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Where we spent the second half

once 006What a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday night. This gentle,charming musical starts before curtain up as the musicians play in the bar that is set up on stage. Do get there early to join them on stage where you can buy your drink in a spill-proof souvenir plastic cup.

on stage pre-drinks

on stage pre-drinks

And this really is a musical. The wonderfully talented performers play and sing and deliver some beautiful choreographed moves. The band are the actors. The actors are the band. This is a story of a musician whose passion for music and life itself is rekindled by the arrival of a feisty Czech who will not take no for an answer. She pours all her energies in to getting his songs sung and for him to believe in himself. The incidental stories have poignancy and humour too and the beautiful music is performed with real heart and yearning.
It’s based on a film from about 2006 and the stage version has the feel of a low budget indie-flick in a way. A good way. This is all about the music, the people and the story. It’s not a showy number. The set is an old pub. The costumes are mostly Primark. And I’m not sure if I’ve just been to watch a band or a play. But whichever it is, I think I want to go to see it again. Four stars.

Matilda the Musical

August 18, 2012

Mmmmm. I am hard to please, God knows. But so are most proper critics and they all seem to have adored this “fabulous’ show. So I had high hopes this would be a new Billy Elliot or Lion King – a kids show that transcends age and blows my socks off. Sadly, it wasn’t.

I don’t like child actors as a genral rule – all that stage-school over enunciation, smiling and jazz hands make me want to punch them and the first number played to that perfectly. But it was meant to – all these kids who are spoilt and considered so precious and special by their parents -to contrast with the derision heaped upon Matilda. Who I have to say I liked very much. I thought she carried her role well. And her story telling to the librarian was wonderful – and gave us the nearest thing to emotion all evening. Her little friend Lavender was endearing too. But the rest? Nah.

We didn’t really get the connection to or between the characters that would have given this more depth and feeling. Made us care more about them. Her parents were grotesque but not funny, Miss Honey insipid but not endearing, her brother just stupid. Miss Trunchbull stole every scene. She was brilliantly played -the pantomime dame in a PE kit. Marvellous.

The set is great, -wonderful classroom, gym and swing scenes. the choreography inventive and rehearsed to within millimetres. The lyrics may be funny but often drowned out by the music, but the big tunes sadly missing. Only one real big number – the rest easily forgettable.

So for me it was impressive in its design but lost the emotion and the magic of the heart of the story. Just scraped three stars.

Miss Trunchbull in full flow. Brilliant

 

 

Post Script –  after receiving a number of negative comments for this review, I found another blog who also didn’t fall all over themselves in joy at it. So I am not the only one! http://www.theatres.tv/reviews/matilda-the-musical-review/

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