View Post

‘A thing of real, gentle wonder’: FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS – Chichester

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Ian FosterLeave a Comment

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
TweetSharePin+10 Shares

Related

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

View Post

Why it’s an amazing time for diversity of style in ‘musicals’ on both sides of the pond

In Audio, Classical music, Features, London theatre, Musicals, Opera, Opinion, Reviews by Edward SeckersonLeave a Comment

It’s an amazing time for diversity of style in “musicals” on both sides of the pond. Hamilton’s hip-hop, street poetry, storytelling, David Yazbek’s middle-eastern infused charmer The Band’s Visit, Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home (newly arrived at London’s Young Vic while her dazzlingly original Caroline Or Change plays at the Playhouse Theatre).

View Post

THE GO-BETWEEN – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Where Taylor’s recent Sheffield outing flooded the stage with talent, albeit with no big star on board, the casting feature of The Go-Between is of course England’s grand-daddy of musical theatre and the creator of Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom Of The Opera, Michael Crawford. No celebrity “stunt casting” here, the quality of Crawford’s performance brings real smiles. One would be pushed to find a better man for a role that requires not only emotional but vocal versatility, and while this national treasure may not be hitting Phantom-like notes, his performance is still certainly on the money.

View Post

THE GO-BETWEEN – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Edward SeckersonLeave a Comment

It has taken six years – and Michael Crawford – to bring Richard Taylor and David Wood’s poetic musicalisation of L P Hartley’s The Go-Between to the West End stage; and before the tired old debate begins as to what it is (opera? musical? play with music?), before anyone goes in search of a comforting label, let it be said that what really counts for something here is the storytelling.

View Post

THE GO-BETWEEN – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Around a derelict room and abandoned trunk, Michael Crawford prowls, a tweedy, damaged old man at the heart of this low-key but unforgettable new musical: singing, remembering, haunted by a diary. It opens with no showy feelgood overture but an almost liturgical harmony as an ensemble of pale ghosts torment him with “We are still here…”.

View Post

FLOWERS FOR MRS HARRIS – Sheffield

In Musicals, Opera, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Edward SeckersonLeave a Comment

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.

View Post

NEWS: Richard Bean premieres snooker play in new Sheffield season

In Musicals, News, Plays, Press Releases, Quotes, Regional theatre by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

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

View Post

Review: Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

  Whistle Down The Wind had a huge effect on me.  It was the first ‘film with people in it’ (as opposed to cartoons) that my parents took me to see.  Of course, aged 7, even in black-and-white I fell in love with Hayley Mills – a brilliant casting by her godfather Bryan Forbes for whom the eerie allegorical drama […]

The post Review: Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.

View Post

Review: Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre)

In Musicals, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

  Whistle Down The Wind had a huge effect on me.  It was the first ‘film with people in it’ (as opposed to cartoons) that my parents took me to see.  Of course, aged 7, even in black-and-white I fell in love with Hayley Mills – a brilliant casting by her godfather Bryan Forbes for whom the eerie allegorical drama […]

The post Review: Whistle Down The Wind (Union Theatre) appeared first on JohnnyFox.