British musicals have been in the doldrums for a while now — as well as I Can’t Sing!, there was also the early closures of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward and Tim Rice’s From Here to Eternity. At last we have an original new show worth celebrating.
Last year we had two speculative theatrical imaginations of our reigning monarch the Queen’s interactions with her Prime Ministers: a whole slew of them in The Audience, and with just one of them, Margaret Thatcher, in Handbagged (which coincidentally has just transferred to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre).
No, it’s nothing to do with cow milkers in the Channel Islands; but Jersey Boys is a musical that’s the cream of the crop of pop compilation musicals that have lately become a theatrical epidemic. One of these was a 60s jukebox show called Oh What A Night, and it’s a pity that it therefore stole the title this one should have had
The National Theatre is on another amazing run of hits that has turned it into Britain’s most successful theatre, bar none. Every single show now playing there is worth seeing, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is unmissable. Like War Horse that has given the theatre its biggest-ever hit, it is based on a book but it translates it into something thrillingly theatrical that hugs the audience in its warm embrace.
The talented young cast of The Commitments give this stage version of Roddy Doyle’s 1987 novel, best known for the 1991 BAFTA Award winning film, plenty of commitment. The loud and long musical jukebox score — which draws on a programme listing of nearly 40 songs, not all of them given in their entirety — is naturally embedded into the action by being about a Dublin-based soul covers band.