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Review: Lucky Stiff at the Bridewell Theatre

Lucky Stiff at the Bridewell Theatre
Lucky Stiff at the Bridewell Theatre

It’s not the most plausible of storylines – embedded within the narrative of Lucky Stiff is some formulae or other that helps the central character, Harry Witherspoon (Jonathan Scott) make substantial improvements to his financial position. But the audience must accept that it exists without knowing further particulars. In the end, however, this being a musical, the message is put out that money cannot purchase contentment and companionship, and an unlikely union is struck up with Annabel Glick (Penny Rodie). That said, opposites attract and all that.

The staging almost screams, ‘This show, you know, will have elements of farce!’ – a number of doors are in place, through which, at some point, various people are almost bound to walk in and out of with exquisitely precise comic timing. In that regard, the production doesn’t quite hit the dizzying movements of the very best shows that involve a lot of running around and chasing after, to quote a musical number’s title, ‘Him, Them, It, Her’. The scene changes were, on the whole, as slick as they could have been, given the amount of set and props being shifted around.

There’s a need to go with the flow – it says something about the gun culture on the other side of the Atlantic that guns come out too often and too easily as the story unfolds. It almost got to the point where one couldn’t even sneeze without having to put their hands up immediately afterwards. The curtain call is thus something of a relief, in the sense that the audience is able to come out of the experience safe in the knowledge that it was an on-stage story, and everyone is actually okay. This does not mean, I hasten to add, that the production induces a sense of fear. The jaunty tunes play a part in suggesting that everything will somehow turn out okay in the end.

This production has a lot going for it, whether one finds it difficult, as Witherspoon does, to appreciate dogs, because some local canines in his hometown are rather aggressive, or if one identifies more with Glick, who likes dogs so much she works for a dog rescue charity. There isn’t a weak link in the twelve-strong cast, and the band, under the direction of Tim Nelson, are nothing short of flawless throughout. The choreography (Jane Saunders) is lively and energetic, pitched at just the right level for the production and the venue.

Scott’s Witherspoon is highly convincing, and in fine voice, capturing the (inherently British) reticence and ultimate vulnerability of the character. Rodie’s Glick could, perhaps, have been a tad more menacing in giving Witherspoon a run for his money (so to speak), if anything in order to prove an equal and worthy adversary to the slightly neurotic Rita La Porta (Deborah Lean). The silliness is sometimes cranked up to the max, delighting some in the audience at the performance I attended, while leaving others nonplussed. Ultimately, all’s well that ends well, to quote the Bard. A mildly pleasant and enjoyable production, this is a show with a certain charm and broad appeal.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Sedos presents a new production of the award-winning musical Lucky Stiff at the Bridewell Theatre, off Fleet Street, from 18- 22 September 2018. From the creators of some of Broadway’s biggest hits – Anastasia, Ragtime, Seussical and Once On This Island – comes a musical comedy about love, death, dogs and diamonds.

Lucky Stiff is an offbeat, hilarious murder mystery farce complete with mistaken identities, six million dollars worth of diamonds, and a corpse in a wheelchair. The story revolves around an unassuming shoe salesman from East Grinstead who is forced to take the embalmed body of his recently murdered uncle on a vacation to Monte Carlo. Should he succeed in passing his uncle off as alive, Harry Witherspoon stands to inherit six million bucks. If not, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn.

CAST
ANNABEL | Penny Rodie
HARRY | Jonathan Scott
RITA | Deborah Lean
VINNIE | Daniel Paul
LUIGI | Stephen Beeny
DOMINIQUE | Lani Calvert
TONY HENDON | Angus Jacobs
MAN | Peter Shimmin, Joseph Dickens
WOMAN | Lois Dollemore, Rebecca Chisholm, Karla Lyford

CREATIVE TEAM
DIRECTED AND DESIGNED BY | Roger Harwood
MUSICAL DIRECTOR | Tim Nelson
CHOREOGRAPHER | Jane Saunders
PRODUCER | Clare Harding
STAGE MANAGER | Emma Taylor
SET DESIGNER | Andrew Laidlaw
SOUND DESIGNER | Adam Coppard
LIGHTING DESIGNER | Steven King
MARKETING MANAGER | Peter Shimmin
MARKETING DESIGN | Michael Smith

LISTINGS DETAILS
Lucky Stiff
Book and lyrics | LYNN AHRENS
Music | STEPHEN FLAHERTY
Based on The Man Who Broke The Bank At Monte Carlo by Michael Butterworth.

Tuesday 18 September to Saturday 22 September 2018
Evenings at 7.30pm, Saturday matinee at 2.30pm

Bridewell Theatre
Bride Lane, off Fleet Street
London EC4Y 8EQ
Box office: www.sedos.co.uk

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