Union Theatre, London – until 26 October 2019
This all-singing all-dancing extravaganza of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a true credit to the timeless classic. The story is fun, it’s funny, it’s cheeky and it’s performed beautifully.
The plot revolves around Lorelei Lee (Abigayle Honeywill) who is about to board a cruise ship with her boyfriend also soon to be husband Gus Esmond Junior (Aaron Bannister-Davies). But the family button business comes in the way after it’s threatened by the new formation of the zip and Gus is forced to stay behind in the US but promises to get on board the next ship. Cue friend AKA ‘the chaperone’ Dorothy Shaw (Eleanor Lakin) who steps in to accompany Lorelei.
While at sea we learn a bit more, it turns out Lorelei is what we would call the modern day WAG – she wants a man with money, doesn’t want to work and will talk the talk until she gets what she wants. And does it work, yes it does. But there is a secret lurking that could unravel everything.
But it’s not just the blondes having fun. Brunette Dorothy also falls in love, albeit thanks to the helping hand of Lorelei. Henry Spofford (Freddie King) comes across rich and his alcohol-loving mother Ella Spofford (Virge Gilchrist) is absolutely hilarious with her desire for a drink at every given opportunity, but it turns out that the money is not really in Henry’s hands but Dorothy doesn’t care.These women are marking their mark, in a different way, wanting different things.
There are some belting singing performances from all the cast and there are some classics in there like ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’.
And there’s some added humour from the married couple Lady Phyllis Beekman (Maria Mosquera) and her husband Sir Francis (Tom Murphy). He can’t help his wandering eye and his yearning to have a few women hanging from his arm and she can’t make him stop. The combination makes for some awkward but hilariously funny moments.
‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ has a rich history, if you excuse the pun. It was first written by Anita Loos. It was then turned into an American silent comedy film and then came the musical on Broadway followed by London and in 1953 was made into a Hollywood film starring the one and only Marilyn Monroe. And now it’s at The Union Theatre in Southwark.
At times it felt like there just wasn’t enough stage room for all the cast as there’s so much swinging around during dance routines but credit to the choreographer Zak Nemorin who certainly knows how to use every inch of the set. So much so that there’s even a little surprise during the interval to get the audience ushered back in for the second half thanks to the performing ensemble.
Every single actor brings something unique to this stunning remake and it might be a long two-hour performance but there’s a part of you that doesn’t want it to end.
It’s running until the 26th of October.