Book by Terry Johnson
Lyrics by Don Black with Music by George Fenton & Simon Chamberlain
Theatre Royal Bath
At last, this much anticipated new musical crowned the Theatre Royal Summer Season with a joyous opening night and a spontaneous ovation from a cheering audience.
Based on the film, the rather thin storyline starts in 1930 and follows the tale of Laura Henderson who buys and creates the legendary Windmill Theatre. The standard revue show is soon transformed into Revuedeville, a combination of comedy and scantily clad ladies covering their modesty with props and ostrich feathers. The Windmill was the only theatre to remain open during the war and was allowed to exist on the assumption that “If it moves, it’s rude” under the strict censorship of the British Government. Here the balance of the life in the theatre and the growing war outside is often precarious but without question the cast are outstanding; the charm, sincerity and warmth of the onstage antics cast an intoxicating spell.
Tracie Bennett in the title role is a tour de force, capturing the determination of this remarkable woman and delivering some expertly penned one liners. All the company are clearly at the top of their game. Graham Hoadly as the Lord Chamberlain has the capacity to stop the show and under the excellent Musical Direction of Mike Dixon the vocal arrangements and individual numbers are glorious.
Andrew Wright stamps his hallmark choreography on the piece, creating witty and exuberant routines with a caring and deliberate nod to the era.
This production has a huge heart, the Design from Tim Shortall and costumes by Paul Wills create picture perfect moments. Clearly in its infancy as a production and it is likely the numerous reprises will be shaved down a little further before it reaches London. This is a nostalgic and charming show which captures a time long gone but does so with great passion and style. The miserable summer weather was immediately forgotten in the warmth and splendour of The Windmill Theatre, banish those blues and get a ticket before it’s too late.
**** (4 Stars)