After the 75th anniversary weekend of VE Day, the musical Only The Brave drew my attention as a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Far from frivolous, this fashion-based drama is a great choice for Chichester Festival Theatre’s inaugural broadcast, from a venue that so often gets it right. Perfect escapism.
Alex Ferns, Marc Elliott and Philip McGinley will join the cast of the record-breaking production of The Girl on the Train for its London run. Starring Samantha Womack as Rachel Watson, the production will run at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre from 23 July to 17 August 2019.
The Girl on the Train starring Samantha Womack as Rachel Watson will transfer to London’s Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited run from 23 July to 17 August 2019.
The Girl on the Train is contemporary, both in its subject and staging. There is a strong balance between a suspenseful whodunit that drives the play and a psychological element about memory and control, and abusive relationships.
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.
Flowers for Mrs Harris is one of the most heartwarming shows I have ever seen and a return to the great British musical. The audible gasps, from the audience, at certain parts a testament to both the writing and performances.
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.
Birdsong is a beautiful love story, interweaved with the horrors of war. Recommended.
Birdsong is a production that is thoughtful, respectful and heartbreaking to watch – but its powerful poignancy and heartfelt performances make this a must-see show.
Taylor writes an altogether different kind of musical in which “songs” rarely arrive fully formed but rather are in the process of evolving – beginnings of songs which are content just being songful and serving as aides-memoires, melodic remanants which in some cases return again and again with all their emotional memory intact. Wagner called them leitmotifs.
Flowers For Mrs Harris marks Daniel Evans’ farewell production at Sheffield’s Crucible and he bows out premiering a musical that is elegant, charming and beautifully crafted.
Only the Brave is a landmark production for Wales Millennium Centre. For the past 10 years, it has been a leading touring venue, as well as providing a home for smaller local companies to create work in it’s smaller spaces. However, it has yet to originate new work on the main stage…until now. In this co-production with the Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions and Birdsong Productions, Only the Brave is a brand-new British musical theatre production.
Daniel Evans today announces the full cast for the world première of Flowers for Mrs Harris by Richard Taylor and Rachel Wagstaff – the final production he will direct as Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres.
This Easter, Wales Millennium Centre will premiere its first full-scale, original musical, ONLY THE BRAVE, produced with Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions and Birdsong Productions. Based on the real lives of men and women caught up in the D-Day landings, this new production will star David Thaxton, Caroline Sheen and Neil McDermott, directed by Steve Marmion, Artistic Director of London’s Soho Theatre.
Artistic Director of Sheffield Theatres, Daniel Evans, today announces the company’s most ambitious season to date, including the premiere of new musical Flowers for Mrs Harris and Richard Bean’s new comedy thriller set in the world of snooker, staged just before the annual World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in April