This Is My Family is a little gem from Calendar Girls/Neville’s Island writer Tim Firth which blindsided me with its warmth and sense of fun, even when dealing with painful situations.
This is gorgeous. Funny, truthful, wise, and bravely original in form. Anyone with a a family – past, present, remembered, or merely observed in cautious auntly incredulity – should see Tim Firth’s musical This Is My Family.
Making theatre as diverse as possible is, I think, a work in progress. And progress is the operative word. I’m not advocating complacency. Of course there’s still much to be done but don’t let’s belittle the enormous amount which has already happened.
Joining Renée Fleming and Dove Cameron in the London debut of the acclaimed Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza at London’s Royal Festival Hall will be Rob Houchen, Celinde Schoenmaker, Liam Tamne, Malcolm Sinclair and Olivier-nominated international soprano Marie McLaughlin.
Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2019 has been announced by artistic director Daniel Evans. It includes John Simm & Dervla Kirwan in Macbeth, Hugh Bonneville in Shadowlands & Tim Firth’s first solo musical starring James Nesbitt.
In the summer of 2019 much-acclaimed opera singer and soprano Renée Fleming and film and TV actress Dove Cameron will star in the London premiere production of Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel’s Broadway musical The Light in the Piazza, directed by Daniel Evans.
News, reviews, interviews, commentary and farewells from London, New York and beyond, including The Stage Debut Awards, Sylvia at the Old Vic and regional openings in Chichester and Bristol.
Some of the beauty of Flowers for Mrs Harris gets lost at Chichester Festival Theatre but it remains a striking new musical
“It’s a work of art… something not real, made to make you feel”
I had much love for Flowers for Mrs Harris when it premiered in Sheffield a couple of years ago, and so I was delighted to see Daniel Evans deciding to revive it at his new abode over in Chichester. My only cavil came with the placing of this most heartfelt musical in the vast space of the Festival Theatre rather than the intimacy of the Minerva where it might perhaps have been better served.
So much of the beauty of the show (book by Rachel Wagstaff from Paul Gallico’s novel, music & lyrics by Richard Taylor) comes from the fact that it isn’t a bells and whistles epic. It is something far more subtle that truly celebrates the ordinary in extraordinary, as Clare Burt’s charlady Ada Harris dares to dream of owning a Christian Dior dress and in working to achieve that dream, illuminates the lives of those around her.
Largely sung-through, the cumulative effect of Flowers for Mrs Harris is like a ripple billowing through a length of silk fabric, flipping it over – beguiling and beautiful, gentle but ultimately transformative. As Ada’s hard work takes her from Battersea to Paris, some nifty doubling in the cast sees her meeting contrasting figures to those for whom she toils. So Louis Maskell switches from accountant to dreamy photographer, Laura Pitt-Pulford from struggling actress to top model, Joanna Riding aristocracy to couturier, and all impress with their clear delineation.
And Burt is just magnificent the unassuming Ada, slowly coming to realise her place in the world, her worth and her right to a greater happiness than she ever dared dream of in the drudgery of post-war Britain. Lez Brotherston’s design looks superb under Mark Henderson’s well-observed lighting choices, and the conclusion is a thing of real, gentle wonder. Don’t just talk about wanting to see new exciting British musical theatre, go and see it now!
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Johan Persson
Flowers for Mrs Harris is booking at Chichester Festival Theatre until 29th September
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Flowers For Mrs Harris, a 2016 Sheffield hit for director Daniel Evans when he was there, is the big musical flourish for Chichester Festival Theatre, where Evans is now completing his second year as artistic director.
Daniel Evans’ elegant, heartfelt production of Flowers For Mrs Harris at Chichester Festival Theatre has been fine-tuned since it ravished our hearts at Sheffield.