The Woman in White

5 Dec

Woman in White
Adopted from the novel by Wilkie Collins
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by David Zipper
Book by Charlotte Jones
Another big press night at the Charing Cross Theatre and another triumphant opening for Thom Southerland, the resident Artistic Director.
It is a highly strung melodrama sung right through by a cast of extremely accomplished singers with a recurring musical theme to carry the dramatic events. To illuminate the lighter scenes there are some very funny panto style rhyming lyrics. Mostly effective in the ‘I hope you like it here’ Sung by Mr Fairlie (Anthony Cable) to Walter Hartwright who is hired to be drawing master to his two daughters Laura and Marion to
This is the first resurrection of this Andrew Lloyd musical since 2003. I saw it at this time and was not terribly enamoured of it. At that time Michael Crawford was playing Count Fosco – a huge sinister/comedy role and cohort of the villain Sir Percival Glyde Crawford played the part as an obese philanderer, suffered terribly from the discomfort of the fat padding, .and had to leave the production through exhaustion.
In Thom Southerland’s version, Greg Castiglione plays it as a rascally, but rather attractive would be seducer of the powerful heroine Marion. These days we have discovered that all villains are not ugly. He has a total stage to himself in his final number ‘You can get away with anything’ which he sings with his wonderful voice and some impressive vocal gymnastics that almost stop the show. Fosco is a man who believes in charm and he has a bundle of it, though he has no chance of getting away with Marian who is only teasing him to get information about her young sister Laura. Laura has married the evil Sir Percival (Chris Peluso) because her father thinks he needs a man to inherit all his fortune.
Morgan Large’s gothic settings are economical but extremely versatile The first scene is the misty gloom of a railway siding, where Walter Hartwright is warned by a sinister signalman that there is doom in the air. It is there that Walter first glimpses the mysterious ghostly figure of The Woman in White (Sophie Reeves)
Walter becomes the beloved of both Marion and Laura. The two girls are beautifully contrasted = beautiful wistful blonde Anna O’Byrne as Laura and the equally beautiful feminist Marion is Carolyn Maitland. All the singing is unusually magnificent and the actors are well chosen.
A special mention to Jonathan Lipman for the sumptuously gorgeous Victorian costumes and to Rick Fisher who lit it and created the atmosphere so beautifully.
I’m told that Lloyd Webber, Southerland and the rest of the creatives have adapted the story to work with modern day ethics and this turns a melodramatic thriller into an interesting political drama.
Yes, it is good news and I hope it will be appreciated. It certainly was on the first night.

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