Jonathan O’Boyle’s 2020 production is moving from Southwark Playhouse to the Garrick Theater, with some of the show’s flaws but others fixed. The common thread is that a relatively young audience (some not much older than the work itself, now past their teens) loved it and that bodes well for the future of the West End facing a critical winter. .
Jamie is an aspiring writer, while also ticking off New York’s Jewish energy and blockages, and Cathy is an actress from the outside, competing for roles with girls with bigger belts and bigger breasts. He succeeds in the Big Apple, caught in the whirlwind of publisher parties and Updike reviews in the New Yorker; she finds herself in Ohio in the provincial theater, her confidence, still faltering, struck once too often.
It wasn’t a revolutionary setup in 2001, so it is even less so now, but Brown’s delicate structure still works: Cathy’s six songs tell her story from the breakup to the relationship, while the songs from Jamie tells his side of the story the other way around, with a few duets when they meet in the middle and a bittersweet number to close.
The songs are as strong as ever, losing nothing to Brown’s work on his iconic show, Parade. “I can do better than that”. Their stories meet “The Next Ten Minutes”, as they devote their lives to each other, as do dizzy and mad lovers. I especially enjoyed Jamie showing off his storytelling skills with âThe Schmuel Song,â a tailor-in-a-tale tale. (Photo above: the recall of the actors of the opening night, photo c. Darren bell)
Oli Higginson was nominated for an Offie for his performance in 2020, and you can see and hear why. He sings beautifully, a West End voice that can suffer with disappointment and shine with ambition. Critical for the role, he’s got charm to spare, but he’s an asshole who could be a mensch and he knows it: he’s just too weak to resist Manhattan’s next trinket – and there is. always one more.
Molly Lynch’s challenge is pretty much insurmountable: herself nominated for Offie, she sings well, but the role of the gentle kind is like the 20th century in its lack of agency, in its definition against Jamie’s burgeoning success. Lynch might not quite have Higginson’s luxurious lineup, but her role is guaranteed to the extent that she can never completely break away from the disappointed and distressed spurned woman we meet in the very first song; his options for shining are more limited.
While this is a required update in writing balance, O’Boyle places his staging on a revolution that has a grand piano placed on it, allowing much needed movement in the scenes, Cathy and Jamie sometimes literally crossing each other as their paths diverge. With Higginson and Lynch sitting down to play when they’re not required to sing, the piano gives them something to do when they’re not in the spotlight, something natural – natural in the world of musical theater anyway. – and again underlines their growing differences, each looking more at the keyboard than at the other, while hearts pour out in songs. The amount of what they play all the way to the back of the house can be debatable, but that hardly matters as MD’s band Leo Munby values ââmelodies, Andy Crick’s cello a presence. particularly welcome which gives depth and poignantness. to breakup songs.
If I’m still struggling to connect with those people who have 99 issues but money isn’t, the public certainly doesn’t, as evidenced by the long queues for the morning. which I attended and at the same time the enthusiastic attention shown in the house when the lovers separate. together and separately and the enthusiastic welcome to the curtain. But who has ever lost money on a bittersweet romantic comedy, sung by a winning couple, featuring songs that a lot of people on the shelves will have had on Spotify’s rotation over the past five years?