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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Hugill    A CLASSIC

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Ruth is attempting to become a writer, selling stories to magazines and newspapers. This involves a series of rather complex situations (including the above mentioned conga and also an amazing illuminated bustier). It is Ruth who gets all the amusing numbers but in the end finds love. On her travels she encounters Bob Baker, editor of The Manhatter whose support for her turned to love. Baker is played by Graham Bickley, who was Billy Crocker in Anything Goes. He is the possessor of a brilliant Broadway baritone and makes a good romantic lead, with an air of Cary Grant, in a plot where the two older figures become the love interest, whilst Eileen is left playing the field.

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

The supporting roles were also well cast including Derek Hagen as Frank Lippencott, David Curtiz as Chick Clark and Paul Featherstone as an appealingly Irish Officer Lanigan, all three of whom are smitten with Eileen, David Freedman as the sisters' artistic landlord, Andrew Dennis as Speedy Valenti the proprieter of the Vortext nightclub and notably Mark Meadows as the footballer 'The Wreck' who gets a delightful solo 'Pass that Football', sung whilst throwing a cabbage around the stage with the delivery boy (played by the grandson of Grange Park patron, Lord Ashburton).

The Grange Park Orchestra, conducted by Richard Balcombe, played Bernstein's score with gusto and not a little sophistication.

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

For all its New York setting, there was something rather English about this staging, perhaps it missed that ultimate element of New York wisecracking. But it replaced it with some very assured handling of complex stage pictures and some rather English subtlety. It is just a shame that there were only seven performances.

Copyright © 4 July 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK

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JOHN NEUMEIER'S 'BERNSTEIN DANCES'

GRANGE PARK OPERA

WONDERFUL TOWN

LEONARD BERNSTEIN

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