The stupendously shabby Union Theatre is the perfect venue for this uplifting revival of Richard Rodger’s and Lorenz Hart’s 1937 musical. A cast of lively and likeable young performers play the small town teenage Thespians who ‘ surprisingly’ try to put on a show in a rundown theatre!!
Although the storyline is as corny as Kansas in August, Babes In Arms has some of the finest songs ever written for a Broadway musical and it is fascinating to hear how the standards ‘My Funny Valentine’ ‘ Where Or When’ and ‘ The Lady is a Tramp’ fit into George Oppenheimer’s light libretto with a perfect precision.
David Ball’s snappy direction moves the witty show along at a brisk pace, allowing enough space for the musical score to resonate and excite. Catriona Mackenzie and James Lacey are in fine voice as the leading could be, would be, should be lovers. My favourite couple however were battling Ben Redfern and Anna McGarahan who slapped, tapped, and high kicked throughout the show. Anna’s sassy and sweet comic performance reminded me of a young Martha Raye.
The straight support was a bit weak and not sharp enough during sub plot, but fortunately this did not detract from the memorable musical numbers, the finest being Jenny Perry’s renditions of ‘Way Out West’, ‘ The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘ Johnny One Note’.
This smart, sharp and funny production is supported by an energetic ensemble who perform Lizzi Gee’s highly inventive choreography with exceptional flair, and on a cold wet evening in April, their delightful dancing and superb singing raised both the rotten rafters and our soggy spirits.
UNION THEATRE, 204 Union Street, SE1 0LX
18 APRIL – 12 MAY