Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wonderful Town is Wonderful

Leonard Berstein's New York inspired musical Wonderful Town arrives at the Birmingham Hippodrome this week, giving audiences classic Broadway showtunes and energetic dance numbers. The production stars West End favourites Connie Fisher and Michael Xavier as Ruth Sherwood and Rob Baker as well a strong supporting cast and a tight ensemble.

Lucy Van Gasse stars as Fisher's petite blonde stage sister - Eileen Sheerwood - with the looks and voice to match her natural stage presence. Her comic timing and performance of the love ballad "A Little Bit in Love" is charming, funny and commands attention. Nic Greenshields is funny but loveable as the larger than life Wreck, with hilarious chemistry with his onstage wife Tiffany Graves. The show boasts a strong supporting cast, each one deserving individual praise for their hard work and commitment to the show. Connie Fisher plays a good leading lady and is an instant win with audience's, although Gasse really should have the final bow... The main cast is only made stronger by a talented ensemble, spending the majority of the show performing highly energetic dance routines that keep the production's pace going.

Lucy Van Gasse steals the show as Eileen

Andrew Wright's contemporary musical theatre styled choreography is enough to buy a ticket alone. From dancing inhabitants of New York city opening the show with sustained lifts, charming Sailors doing the Conga to a drunk a passionate ballet in a Jazz Club, Wright's choreographic vision for the show works extremely well. My personal highlight was the number "Conquering New York" where the company creates the hustle and the bustle of the big city using clever movements with props. Although Simon Higlett's design of two huge skyscrapers disappearing into the distance and dirty apartments that fall apart before your eyes are interesting and intelligent, it seems as if the production budget ran dry before the set was able to be finished to make it look truly magnificent.

With so many classic musicals being revived recently theatre goers are more than spoilt for choice, however, the music, talent and choreography of Wonderful Town make this revival a funny and heart warming evening out, perfect for anyone wanting to be whisked away to the good old days of Broadway and the Big Apple.

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