Review round-up: The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre)

I’ve already written my own revew of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of The Music Man, buit it’s always good to find out that I’m in agreement with the professional critics! In fact, the critics were so positive (and so much more in agreement than normal!), that I thought it was worth writing a round-up of their reviews.

Their thoughts on … the overall show
I’ve now read 7 different reviews of the show (you can find the full links at the end of this post), and they are all extremely positive about the show. All of the newspapers that gave starred ratings to the review – Guardian, Times and Evening Standard – gave it four stars, an impressive achievement.

Given his usual lack of excitement about musical theatre, Michael Billington was more positive than expected, praising the show as a “joyous Chichester revival” and “a surprisingly innovative show”. Charles Spencer (Telegraph) also loves the show, observing that“Rachel Kavanaugh’s revival of this sweet-natured show proves a continuous delight”


Their thoughts on … the music
Billington loves the musical range of the show, noting the composer’s use of styles including a capella, patter songs and barbershop quartets. In fact, he goes as far as to say:

“The other key fact is Willson’s ability to play around with musical form… It is one of the best scores of Broadway’s Golden Age as it expresses the ethos of a community.”


Their thoughts on … the choreography
The choreography is also well-praised. Billington (Guardian) mentions “Stephen Mear’s witty choreography”, and Charles Spencer (Telegraph) writes about “Stephen Mear’s superbly inventive choreography.”

One scene in particular receives particular praise, as Fiona Mountford (Evening Standard) highlights:

“Delicious choreography from Stephen Mear, who has the actors choo-choo-ing like steam trains to start and bounding about with books on their heads for the library scene”


Their thoughts on … the actors
Overall, both of the leads (Strallen and Conley) get good press from the reviewers, despite occasional niggles.

Scarlett Strallen “perfectly captures the heroine’s romantic coming out” (Guardian), but Nightingale in The Times refers to her as “always attractive if sometimes insufficiently feisty” . But it’s Anthony Thorncroft (Financial Times) who is her biggest fan, describing her as “a lyric soprano of the old school – one who vibrates beautifully and who looks a dream.”

Brian Conley “does a fine job as Harold Hill” (Guardian) and “has the genial charm and cheeky charisma to carry you with him” (Times). Anthony Thorncroft (FT) is the only real doubter, suggsting that he “moves well but the voice is wooden, and sometimes the charm is closer to smarm”. But if Conley does read his own reviews, he’ll particularly enjoy the words of Charles Spencer (Daily Telegraph):

“He is in magnificent form as Harold Hill, combining smiling charm and irrepressible confidence with a hint of darkness.” 
And to finish…
“Certainly by the end of the show the audience was blowing up the kind of storm that could send The Music Man all the way to the West End. For it is pure fun.”  

Or, as the Evening Standard says, “the oomphiest bit of oom-pa in ages.”

In case you’re wondering what I thought, take a look at my review here.

Recap: Links to Reviews of The Music Man:
Guardian review: Michael Billington 
The Times review: Benedict Nightingale
Daily Telegraph review: Charles Spencer
Financial Times review: Anthony Thorncroft 
Daily Mail review: Patrick Marmion 
Evening Standard review: Fiona Mountford
The Stage review: Nick Smurthwaite


1 Response to “Review round-up: The Music Man (Chichester Festival Theatre)”

  1. 1 Job Abijah October 23, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    “the oomphiest bit of oom-pa in ages.”

    I think the Evening Stardard got this absolutely right! I went to see this and it was the best thing I had seen in ages.

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