Frankly, This Show Is Damned ; (1) A Long-Winded Struggle to Cram Spectacular Film on West End Stage(2) FIRST NIGHT
Jongh, Nicholas De, The Evening Standard (London, England)
Gone With The Wind * New London Theatre
CONNOISSEURS of big, bad musicals must rush to catch Gone With The Wind in case it's quickly blown away on gales of ridicule. Or is a small, well-placed tornado in the vicinity of the theatre too much to hope for? I found it a cruel, unusual punishment, being obliged to spend well over three hours watching Jill Paice's attractive Scarlett O'Hara, parading in big dresses and even bigger displays of petulance.
She sang her songs, or rather songlets, in a voice whose higher registers struck fearful sounds. How unfortunate for us that she should endlessly complain about her failure to convince Ashley Wilkes (impressively fraught Edward Baker- Duly) that he was the man for her, rather than Darius Danesh's caddish smoothie, Rhett Butler.
Meanwhile the firing and destruction of Atlanta, the deaths or disabling of revolting Southern soldiers, proved occasional distraction to the main romantic event for those of us who like a little light relief from the horrors of unrequited lust. This may sound an ungenerous response to a musical rendition of the 69-year old movie that turned the American Civil war into a seductive weepie and ravished countless millions of women in the process. This version, though, reminds us of the dangers of trying to cram a vintage film spectacular into theatrical confines, particularly with an absolute beginner as the adaptor.
Most musicals are the work of several hands and minds. Here, however, book, music and lyrics are all attributed to Margaret Martin, who has spent 30 years taking pregnancy classes for expectant parents in California, studied musical theory and now gives laborious birth to her first musical.
Martin's liberal gloss on Gone With The Wind, supplying slaves with some attractive gospel songs and spirituals "Blacks born to be free" strikes hypocritical notes, though Natasha Yvette Williams's black momma sings and acts with appealing ardour. For the musical, like the film, sympathises with Southerners who fight to keep slavery going and launch the Ku Klux Klan.
Warfaring incidents serve as mere decorative backdrops,with wounded …
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Publication information: Article title: Frankly, This Show Is Damned ; (1) A Long-Winded Struggle to Cram Spectacular Film on West End Stage(2) FIRST NIGHT. Contributors: Jongh, Nicholas De - Author. Newspaper title: The Evening Standard (London, England). Publication date: April 23, 2008. Page number: 3. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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