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McDonald's handling of the piece is very assured as action moves between a number of imaginatively delineated locations; Christopher Street in Greenwich Village (with a cast of leather clad men with conspicuous handkerchiefs in the back pockets); the Sherwood sisters' insalubrious apartment against a backdrop of a huge cockroach; the editor's office at the magazine The Manhatter, with a huge book for the editor's desk and a correspondingly big apple; the Irish policeman suddenly going into Lord of the Dance Irish dancing mode and finally the Vortex club with its hip, black PVC clad denizens.

Daneman, a Marilyn Monroe clone in a blond wig, makes an appealing Eileen as she charms every man in sight, including the New York police force. Whilst she does not have a classic Broadway voice, she brings much charm and sophistication to the role. In her solo 'It must be love' she even feeds members of the audience with chocolate-covered cherries.

As Ruth, Mary King, created a vivid, wise-cracking character who was naïve underneath. Her delivery of 'A hundred easy ways to lose a man' was masterly, though she lacks the right 'belt' voice for the role. This was more of a problem with the finale to the first half, where her attempt to interview a shipful of Brazilian sailors degenerates into a hilarious conga, as King's delivery was not quite up to the volume required to rise above the noise of a dozen men dancing the conga.

From left to right, Ruth (Mary King) and Eileen (Sophie Daneman). Photo © 2004 Alastair Muir
From left to right, Ruth (Mary King) and Eileen (Sophie Daneman). Photo © 2004 Alastair Muir

But this is where musicals at Grange Park develop a charm of their own. The company eschews any form of amplification and with a theatre as small as the opera house in its current incarnation, this means that we get a far more intimate and subtle version of the musical. This worked well, more or less, in Anything Goes and similarly in Wonderful Town this purist approach has plus and minus points as we must occasionally trade off balance problems with the bliss of hearing the score performed to such a high standard, unadulterated by amplification.

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Copyright © 4 July 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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