Monday, December 12, 2005

Promises, Promises - Sheffield Crucible

Last Friday I managed to drag myself back to the Crucible (it's a chore, you realise) to see the only musical Burt Bacharach was ever involved in - Promises, Promises. The papers have been uniformly positive over this, with the Guardian, Metro and Daily Mail all giving it a hearty 4/5, though Alfred Hickling (Guardian) certainly tempers his praise.

To be honest, I'm quite surprised with all these 4 star reviews when the response to Much Ado About Nothing was muted at best. To my mind, Much Ado was by far the superior production, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy Promises, Promises.

The script, by Neil Simon, was certainly the best aspect; witty and playful with incredibly clever word-play throughout. Many of the best lines were throwaways, however, which were over before the audience had time to work them out and show their appreciation (myself included!), which unfortunately made for a rather subdued evening (save a few drunken women behind us who would have found the empty stage funny...!).

Richard Frame played the lead - Chuck, who loans his appartment to his bosses for out-of-office-hours activity in order to climb the professional ladder - and had most of the production on his shoulders. Luckily, he was perfectly cast and very funny.

The wonderful, brilliant, fantastic, Adam Cooper (us dancers are all fans; it's obilgatory) choreographed, and it was obvious that the dancing had been in the hands of someone who really knew what he was doing. Despite the involvement of Bacharach and David this need not be a 60s period piece, and, thankfully, Cooper hinted at classic 60s moves without resorting to parody.

The problems? They're harder to quantify, which seems a bit of a cop-out, I know. The songs themselves, bizarrely, were probably the weakest aspect - perhaps it would have worked better as a play. The plot was also pretty thin and predictable, and lacked the little sparkle and magic you want from a large-cast Christmas musical. Overall - an enjoyable and accomplished production of a very average musical.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

BANANNA!

I'm so glad to meet someone who
A) knows who Neil Simon is and B) appreciates his work.

You now have a chore. I want you to seek out Brighton Beach memoirs on DVD if you can find it. It's tough to find. I've seen it ONCE in about eight years of looking and snatched it up. It introduces the world to jonathan silverman. I watch it and get tears in my eyes from laughing.

by the way, there's a thread on the .org about bowie requiring your attention

--bib