Monday, 20 March 2017

Honeymoon in Vegas, Palladium

A note from Joelle... 
For one night and one night only, the concert performance of the hit Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas came to London for the first time.
Freddie Tapner's London Musical Theatre Orchestra was conducted by the musical's composer, Jason Robert Brown and it was their first performance in their 2017 schedule.

The original film, starring Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker was released a bit before my time, so I had never heard of it before! And as you probably know from my other theatre reviews, when I get tickets for a new musical or play, I never google it or read reviews in advance - I need to see it with completely fresh eyes.
image: Nick Rutter
If like me, you've never heard of the film or musical, let me break down the synopsis for you (it's so bizarre):
The story follows Jack, a New Yorker who promised his dying mother that he would never get married. However, his girlfriend, Betsy is sick and tired of the "curse" and Jack's fear, so is keen to get married, even if it means eloping to Vegas. And that's what they do!
But after losing a game of poker to a Vegas gambling boss, who takes a liking to Betsy, the elopement goes really, really wrong - and of course, it's bloody hilarious.
Oh, and there are parachuting Elvises (Elvi (?)), a ghost of a dead mother, and a Hawaiian temptress - you know, your usual musical.
 image: Nick Rutter
What I noticed straight away was the diversity of the audience. The West End often gets a bad rep for only drawing in middle-class, middle-aged white people to shows, but tonight, Palladium was packed to bursting point with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Before the live band (who were not in the orchestra pit, but in full view on stage) took to the stage, I knew there had to be something really special about this show.
We all know Samantha Barks (BETSY) is an incredible actor and singer (she played Eponine in Les Mis, both in the West End and in the 2012 film!), but it was her co-star that stole the show in my opinion.
Arthur Darvill (JACK), who you'll know as the vicar in Broadchurch or Amy Pond's boyfriend in Doctor Who has a wonderful, earthy voice that marries so well with a large ensemble behind him. He was the real star of the show with not just his voice, but his comedic timing.

I also feel I need to give a special shout out to Simon Lipkin, who sang the part of Elvis. He really brought the house down with his charm and charisma.

The energy from the LMTO (including Jason Robert Brown), the supporting cast and the main cast was electric and that was the most refreshing thing about the performance - they all bounced off each other so well. When that happens, the usually stiff and reserved British audience relaxes more!
 image: Nick Rutter
With Brown's dazzling score made up of swing, rock 'n' roll and Hawaiian-inspired island numbers gave the show a varied vibe that people of all ages in the audience were tapping their feet to.
We gave the cast and band many standing ovations and they were so well-deserved.
(*)
Now, the only question left is: when is the full production coming to the West End? London is in desperate need of a funny, feel-good show like this.
4.5/5 stars.

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