Connie Fisher finally arrived at the Theatre Royal, after having to withdraw from the Sound of Music Tour, in the lead of Ruth in Bernstein’s Wonderful Town. While all the performers in this large scale tour are extremely strong, the paper thin plot, extremely long first half and mainly unknown songs make you wonder was there not a better vehicle for such a talented cast to tour with.
The whole plot revolves around sisters Eileen (Lucy van Gasse) and Ruth (Fisher) arriving in New York from Ohio to start a new life. They end up moving in to a basement bedsit in a poor area of the city and try to find jobs. This allows them to meet all sorts of characters and introduce the boy meets girl, losses girl and finds her again before the finale.
Sadly the plot means the immense talents of Tiffany Graves (Helen) and Michael Xavier (Bob Baker) are totally wasted. However the show is much stronger in Act Two, with the opening number My Darlin’ Eileen being the productions highlight. I am able to recall seeing Maureen Lipman in the West End version many years ago and the similarities between her and Fisher are noticeable.
While this production allows the audience to enjoy a rarely performed large scale touring production, the talented cast are capable of so much more. Therefore, although the show has high production values, (although why the three leading ladies were in identical shows did seem puzzling) it is a shame they are not in a tour that is more worthy of their talents.