London Palladium – 12 March 2017
Guest reviewer: Soraya Scrivener
Freddie Tapner, London Musical Theatre Orchestra’s founder and principal conductor introduced the evening to rapturous applause. I was delighted to hear we would hear the script of this comedy musical, Honeymoon In Vegas, as well as the musical numbers in this one-off UK premier concert. LMTO’s first guest conductor for the evening would be multi award-winning Jason Robert Brown, the show’s composer and lyricist.
The musical is based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicolas Cage and James Caan. Both were written by Andrew Bergman but I believe it works much better as a musical. Honeymoon in Vegas tells the tale of Jack who is haunted by his dying Mother’s curse to never marry. Finally, in Vegas with his fiancé Betsy, Jack ends up in debt to Tommy, a wealthy gambler. He has no option but to exchange his debt for a weekend with Betsy who is the spitting image of Tommy’s late wife Donna. The musical sadly only had a short run on Broadway in 2015.
The 30 piece orchestra opened with a punchy overture and a hint of the beautiful, catchy, toe tapping tunes that were in store for us. You wouldn’t know that some of the musicians were making their paid professional debut. Special mention must go to the musicality between the drummer and the pianist.
Added to the LMTO we were fortunate to have 9 glorious principals and a 16 strong chorus who were perfectly cast. The Palladium stage was brimmed to the full with sensational performers. Who sung and acted to the limits within the restraints of the concert setting.
Jack was played by Arthur Darvill, who we know from Doctor Who. But Darvill is equally at home on the stage playing the lead in the musical Once on Broadway and in the West End. Samantha Barks played Betsy and is probably best known for her role as Eponine from Les Miserable in the West End, the 25th Anniversary concert and the 2012 film. Both Darvill and Barks are stunning performers and were an absolute joy to watch. I particularly enjoyed Darvill’s delightful rendition of ‘Isn’t That Enough’ and Barks sparkled through the soft sensitive ballads to the jazzy showstoppers with ease.
TV, stage and screen actor Maxwell Caulfield played Tommy and is known for playing Billy Flynn both on Broadway and in the West End. Caulfield’s gruff voiced character of Tommy was brilliant in ‘Out of the Sun.’ A touching song about his late wife Donna contrasted with my favourite comedic lines of the show, ‘roasting like a chicken in her chair’ and ‘I might have saved her with a higher SPF.’ ‘A Little Luck’ was one of Caulfield’s great numbers.
Honeymoon In Vegas Photo Credit Nick Rutter
‘Simon Lipkin reminded me of Frank Sinatra’
Simon Lipkin as Buddy Rocky reminded me of Frank Sinatra when singing ‘When You Say Vegas.’ This was a fantastic finger clicking number. Nicolas Colicos (Tommy’s henchman) joined him, Caulfield and the chorus giving this number a spectacular Broadway finish. Lipkin also showed fine voice in ‘Do Something’ and doubling up as Roy Bacon with his male chorus skydiving Elvis’ singing the well-received ‘Higher Love.’
Rosemary Ashe who plays Jack’s mother gave us a powerful performance that reminded me of Ethel Merman. Whilst Maisey Bawden shone, hilariously attempting to seduce Jack as Mahi in ‘Friki Friki.’ It was wonderful to see them both milk every comedic moment.
‘Deserved the standing ovation’
In summary this feel-good concert deserved the standing ovation it received. Add sets, costumes and dancing and this could be a sensational West End hit. Who can resist a show that includes a visit to Hawaii, skydiving Elvis’ and so many jazz hand finishes. I will be humming the memorable tunes for some time and there are so many.
LMTO’s upcoming events include A Night on Broadway at St Albans Cathedral on the 13th of May and Bernstein’s Candide at Cadogan Hall on the 21st of July. Find out more here
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