Ragtime - 12th November

At last I have seen Ragtime and was it worth the wait ? A rousing Y E S. It came up to and surpassed all expectations. This show is truly one of the best shows of this decade and a fitting show to end the millennium with. The rich score full of memorable and moving tunes is an absolute delight and filled the cavenous Ford Center completely.

The look of the show is almost minimalist but not to the extent of nothing at all, but only parts of the set are shown leaving your imagination to create the rest of the image. The back of the stage slopped down with large steps, you couldn't see this but could work it out by watching people leave the stage that way. This created a further perspective to the stage as the people disappeared into the distance. This was most effective with the immigrants arriving in America to a backdrop of the Statue of Liberty and coming up from beneath the stage to the gates barring their way on Ellis Island. The train effect for 'Gliding' was particular effective as it came out of the crowd it came down to the front of the stage. As it was the back of the train being shown it could then in effect drive off into the distance. The use of silhouettes was used extremely effectively especially during the 'trashing of the car' and the final sequence as characters from throughout the show passed by.

The cast were all excellent and delivered great performances, in particular Donna Bullock (Mother), Darlesia Cearcy (Sarah), Alton Fitzgerald White (Coalhouse), David Mucci (Tateh), Rod Campbell (Father) and Scott Carollo (Younger Brother). In fact I could list all the main players as I can't criticise any of them or the ensemble.

Donna Bullock was outstanding as Mother, creating a real empathy with the decisions she had to make and admiration for the 'journey' she had to take from Father to Tateh. Her scenes with David Mucci were especially effective, the connection between them both was clear from their first meeting at the station.

Darlesia Was excellent as Sarah. Her voice perhaps hasn't the complete richness of Audra McDonald but she sings with such emotion and worked so well with Alton Fitzgerald White's Coalhouse. I loved the 'New Music' scene as Father & Mother analyse their marriage in light of the love affair unfolding before their eyes between Coalhouse and Sarah, 'Our love was never half as true'. Coalhouse knelt at the bottom of the stairs and begged 'Sarah come down to me' and as the song came to it's end she did.

Alton's Coalhouse was a stubborn & proud man, his strong conviction only cracking as he stands over Sarahís coffin and seems about to collapse in grief but as his friend rush to his aid he stands tall with true strength. He is obviously a dancer as well as a singer as he gracefully moved around the stage. 'Make them hear you' has to be my favourite song in the show and it was especially well delivered.

There is so much to praise this production with and I could list the elements of the scenes which I especially liked and the portrayals for a lot longer than this review : ) The scenes which stuck out in my mind must be

- Father's arrival back from his expedition with all his gear and polar bear skin to find a family greatly changed from the one he left.

- Houdini's escape from the box hanging in the middle of the stage, truly a real illusion !

- The baseball gameís brilliant direction and choreography in that it didn't look staged at all

- wonderful choral singing of 'Til we reach that day'

- opening sequence

- 'Sarah' coming down to Coalhouse

- Make Them Hear You

I can't believe that they are closing this wonderful show, I sincerely hope that this will not be the end of Ragtime and that it will go on for many years, it truly deserves to.

Scarlet Pimpernel - 13th November 1999

After a fairly weak start where Carolee Carmello's voice barely seemed to travel beyond the footlights with 'Storybook Love', this show truly came to life with the entrance of Ron Bohmer as Percy Blakeney. This show romps through the French revolution and is a great afternoon's easy entertainment. After her first song Carolee shines through delivering a very good performance as Marguerite. She has a lovely voice, perhaps not the most powerful but right for the part. Marc Kudisch played the part of Chauvelin well although visually he could still easily pass for Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He managed to hold his own against many of the jokes made against his character by Percy. He has a strong voice and delivered his songs to the fore.

Now Ron Bohmer was fabulous, extremely funny as the 'fop' Percy and dashing as the Pimpernel. The 'God Created Man' sequence with the 'Pimpernels men' was hilarious and played just to the right level.

The Pimpernel music has a few memorable tunes but as a whole is not outstanding. It serves the show well enough though and if you are looking for an afternoon of enjoyable enterainment, lead by a strong leading trio and ensemble, go to Pimpernel

Jekyll and Hyde - 13th November 1999

This was my second outing to Jekyll and I still believe that the show itself is limited and flawed but once again the trip was made worthwhile by a superb performance of Jekyll, this time by Rob Evan. His 'This is the Moment' stopped the show and deservedly so. He has a wonderfully powerful voice, strong and clear. His character transformation to Hyde was excellent and throughout he showed great characterisation in switching between Jekyll and Hyde culminating in the confrontation, which was excellently done.

He had strong support from Luba Mason and Anastasia Barzee as Lucy and Emma. Luba created more of a character for Lucy than Linda Eder although I feel the script is limited in opportunities for real character development for Lucy. She sang her solo songs very well and had a strong voice. I would love to know where she came form in England, she didnít even seem to try an accent !! Emma is a hard part to play as she doesnít get a lot more to do than play the worried fiancee. Anastasia carried the part off well and sang a lovely 'Once Upon a Dream'

The two chorus scenes 'Facade' and 'Murder, Murder' are the most excruciating Victorian London ensemble scenes I have seen in any show. The lyrics in the show are OK but lines such as 'a man kopped it and the bloke that did it hopped it' (or something along those lines) is laughingly bad.

I enjoyed the show more than last time and as with before it was worth seeing for Rob Evan's performance alone.

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