Wonderful Town

14 Nov


Music by Leonard Bernstein

lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

From the play ‘My Sister Eileen’ by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorovants

and short stories by Ruth Mc Kenney

The Rose and Crown musicals proves that it is possible to put on a bit musical comedy in a room above a pub – of course it helps when the pub belongs to the producer and musical director of All Stars. But they perform positive wonders in that small space.

Here is yet another example of what enormously successful musical theatre can be made in a small venue with an ensemble company. Of course, to have an ensemble that works, the actors all must be able to sing and dance as well as play drama and comedy. And director Tim McArthur always manages to find the pick of the bunch. This is a rich mix of fantastically talented performers.

The story concerns two sisters, Ruth and Eileen from Ohio trying to make their way in New York – the Wonderful Town of the title.

The two girls are perfectly cast. Lizzie Wofford and Francesca Benton-Stace both beautiful but different in temperament. Eileen wants to be an actress and flirts and falls in love with every man she sees – much to her victims’ enjoyment. Lizzie Wofford plays Ruth, the intellectual who outshines every man she meets and sings ‘One hundred Easy ways to Lose a Man’ , Wofford is quite wonderful and gets better every time I see her. She carries a lot of the comedy with her would-be publisher Aneurin Pascoe but there are also villains, idiots, prostitutes – all human life is there in Christopher Street and all are seriously weird.

The plot is a bit of a mess. But enjoyable nevertheless.

However, I have a problem with all ensemble shows these days. Just too much choreography. I long for someone to come on and just sing a song without the rest of the cast jigging about behind them. There are some delicious songs in the score. ‘A Little Bit in Love’ which Eileen sings about every man she meets. The love song ‘It’s love’ the kind of number that stays with you for days afterwards and the hilarious ‘Conga’

My personal favourite which unaccountably brings tears to my eyes is ;The Wrong Note Rag’ which is played beautifully by the MD Aaron Clingham. I would have liked him to have that moment to himself but of course there is a chorus of frenetic dancing going on all the time.

It could be just me, but I do wish they would occasionally stand still.

Nevertheless, whatever I say, this is a great show to go and see. Take the trip to Walthamstow before it comes off., Don’t miss it.

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