Press pass: Everything you need to know about Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

In London theatre, Musicals, News, Opinion, Quotes, Reviews by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the first major opening of 2015, and one of the year’s biggest musicals, had its West End premiere last night (Monday 12 January 2015, previews from 16 December 2014) at London’s Playhouse Theatre. Based on renowned Spanish director Pedro Almodovar‘s breakthrough 1988 film of the same name, the stage musical adaptation – with music and lyrics by David Yazbek and a book by Jeffrey Lane – was first seen in 2010 on Broadway, where it had a short run. It has been substantially revised since and is again directed by New York’s Bartlett Sher. Overnight reviews are positive, on the whole, with mainly enthusiastic four-star raves, that surprised even some of the critics themselves Overnight reviews are positive, on the whole, with mainly four-star ratings, and a smattering of three- and two-stars. Even detractors praise the powerhouse performances of British leading ladies Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne. I’ve included summaries and links to the major overnight reviews below, as well as other recent #goodreads coverage on the show, including interviews with Tamsin Greig, Haydn Gwynne, Pedro Almodovar and the paparazzi frenzy from the first night. Never mind the attendance of Almodovar, the original film’s stars, Cherie Blair and countless other celebs, it was all about Graham Norton’s five o’clock shadow and ill-fitting coat for the Daily Mail! I’m excited to see Women myself later this week. So please do check back next week for my relevant #TheatreDiary and on-the-night tweets stream. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is currently booking at the West End’s Playhouse Theatre until 9 April 2015.   First night coverage and more… CRITICAL CONSENSUS TELEGRAPH = FOUR STARS Dominic Cavendish: “Absolute joy of an evening, built paradoxically on the despair, rejection, heart-break and jealousy that comes with love betrayed…Movement, fluidity, unpredictable vitality”… TIMES = FOUR STARS Dominic Maxwell: “Ending with a gorgeous sunset, heart-melting a cappella harmonies and a vivid sense of loss and fortitude, this show sends you out of the theatre feeling repaired…” INDEPENDENT = FOUR STARS Paul Taylor: “The production’s masterstroke is casting Tamsin Greig in the central role of Pepa…And Haydn Gwynne is bliss as the bonkers Lucia…It’s no wonder that Almodovar has given his bl DAILY MAIL = FOUR STARS Quentin Letts: “This inventive new version of Almodovar’s 1988 film is a stylish hoot…A fiesta of PMT with monstrous, ticklish caricatures and, ultimately, a heart very much in the right place…” GUARDIAN = THREE STARS Michael Billington: “Greig gives a sparky performance as she skitters around Madrid in this knockabout, rueful farce…A perfectly pleasant show, only the songs put a brake on the story’s propulsion” EVENING STANDARD = THREE STARS Henry Hitchings: “Though it pulses with Latin rhythms and clever twists, there aren’t enough genuinely flavoursome tunes…[but] this is a musical that leaves one feeling well entertained…” TIME OUT = THREE STARS Andrzej Lukowski: “There is something intrinsically winsome about it all: its general wonkiness suits the increasingly mad plot…Not a great musical, but certainly a laugh at a gloomy time of year” THEATRE CAT = FOUR STARS Libby Purves: “Rejoice in Haydn Gwynne acrobatic in a pink miniskirt on a Lambretta…and some blissful gags and a cod flamenco moment from Ricardo Afonso as the taxi driver. Olé!”… THE STAGE = TWO STARS Mark Shenton: “Two ferociously good performances rise above the tangled inconsistencies…A fast Broadway flop is entirely remade for the West End, but introduces new problems instead of solving them” LONDONTHEATRE.CO.UK = TWO STARS Mark Shenton (again): “Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne are a splendid study in contrasts… The West End could do with a new musical comedy, but this one doesn’t hit the spot…” INTERVIEWS & FEATURES TIME OUT: TAMSIN GREIG National treasure Tamsin Greig has conquered TV – Black Books, Episodes – won an Olivier for her stage work and ruled the airwaves in The Archers. But she’s never been in a musical – until now… TELEGRAPH: TAMSIN GREIG The late move into motherhood is not the only change that has come upon Greig. In recent years, she has stopped being seen as an out-and-out clown… TELEGRAPH: HAYDN GWYNNE Gwynne on Women on the Verge, Thatcher, The Audience and casting as you get older: “Age is still an issue for actresses – unless you’re name is Meryl Streep…” STANDARD: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WOMEN… The new show has a tough job ahead if it is to live up to the genius of the original, the breakthrough movie of the Spanish director which introduced his singular vision to the wider world…. GUARDIAN: ENTERING ALMODOVAR’S WORLD “Perhaps it’s the wrong time of day,” says Monica, the tourist guide taking me on the Almodóvar tour of Madrid. We’re in the La Latina quarter, looking at a 14th-century square, filmed in Matador… PICTURE GALLERIES DAILY MAIL: UNSHAVEN GRAHAM NORTON & OTHER PAP PICS The 51-year-old looked uncharacteristically scruffy in a bizarre baggy coat when he stepped out for a red carpet appearance at the opening night of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown… GUARDIAN: PRODUCTION PIC GALLERY It’s just the thing for a dreary January in London’s Theatreland: Pedro Almodóvar’s gazpacho-fuelled black comedy is retold with songs and dance numbers in a sunny new production… TELEGRAPH: PEDRO MEETS TAMSIN Tamsin Greig is shown here meeting Pedro Almodóvar, who visited London’s West End to meet the stars of the stage adaptation of his breakthrough film… NEWS & GOSSIP GUARDIAN: PEDRO GIVES HIS VERDICT ON MUSICAL Pedro Almodóvar has given his verdict on a new West End musical version of one of his most famous and adored films. “This is an incredible tribute to my country… I feel very grateful”… BELFAST TELEGRAPH: TAMSIN COMPARES PEDRO TO SHAKESPEARE Greig: “It’s a little bit like having Shakespeare in the audience” except that Almodovar is “such a generous spirit so it doesn’t feel overwhelming or terrifying”… LATIN AMERICAN HERALD: PEDRO TALKS ABOUT INSPIRATION Spanish director Pedro Almodovar said on Sunday that his “female characters” were “inspired” by the women who “saved” Spain from “the war”… DIGITAL SPY: PEDRO PRAISES LEADING LADIES Almodóvar praised the revised musical adaptation of his Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, after it flopped on Broadway in 2010. He admits he’s only been involved “in a very passive way”… DIGITAL SPY: PEDRO HAS HIGH HOPES FOR WEST END As compared to the show’s Broadway run: “Even the music sounds completely different because it’s had different orchestration… I pray for it to be successful because they absolutely deserve it”… DIGITAL SPY: GREEN WING MUSICAL NEXT FOR TAMSIN? Greig has joked that Green Wing would make a good musical: “Music is that place beyond poetry. And I think comedy’s like that. It’s that place slightly beyond poetry where everything is heightened”…

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Terri Paddock
Terri Paddock runs the Terri Paddock Group, which provides content and social media marketing services for theatre clients across channels including,, Stage Talk and Previously,
Terri Paddock founded and the WhatsOnStage Awards, running the company and its events from 1996 to 2013. Terri is also the author of two novels, Come Clean and Beware the Dwarfs, and has previously written for the Evening Standard, Independent, The Times and other national publications. She is renowed for her 'legendary' post-show Q&As and also produces the annual Critics' Circle Theatre Awards and acts as a digital, content strategy and event consultant for theatre, producers and other clients. She tweets about theatre at @TerriPaddock.

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