Heading the company is a wonderful set of leads all giving performances of human degrees and not the sugary sweet angle often used on this show. Hugh Jackman was indisposed but has a worthy understudy in Howard Ellis. He has a lovely clear voice and interacts very well with Josefina Gabrielle’s headstrong Laurey. No pretty dresses and ladylike manners for this Laurey, dressed in dungarees she is a girl who works on the land. It was good to see Josefina and Howard perform their own roles in the ballet, this makes the sequence more realistic.
Shuler Hensley recently won the Olivier for best supporting actor in a musical and deservedly won it. His is a Jud you can have compassion for, a man who takes his revenge out of frustration and not hate. He tries to impress Laurey and scrubs up for the box social but his actions do not endear him to Laurey.
Jimmy Johnston was also up for best supporting performance and the panel must have had a hard decision as Jimmy’s Will Parker bounds on the stage, dancing and singing his way into Ado Annie’s heart, if that is possible !. He had an excellent of timing and delivered some lines to perfection.
Maureen Lipman is a stalwart of British audiences and her brings her Aunt Eller to British Audiences. He gives a performance both gentle and forceful. Whilst keeping control of the local townsfolk, she shows continual support for her niece and nothing pleases her more when Laurey gets together with Curly.
Vicki Simon and Peter Polycarpou provide much of the comic sections with many a misunderstanding on Annie’s part.
This show has been recorded for prosperity with the original national company. A wonderful momento of this show but see it live if you can
1 March 1999
Addendum - 15 May 1999
This time I saw Hugh Jackman and all I can say is wow. He was brilliant. Apart from the wonderful voice he created a Curly with many different sides from self confident and charming to the darker more serious side with Jud and then the nervous wreck when he asked Laurey to marry him. His Curly was very believable and a great performance to watch and extremely nice to look at aswell : )