The mediocrity of the reviews and the indifference of the bloggers meant I wasn’t really looking forward to this, which might have contributed to how much I enjoyed it!
It’s true that it’s not a great show – with an undistinguished score and a particularly disappointing downbeat ending – but I thought Paul Taylor-Mills production was terrific, making the most of the material with bucket loads of energy and an infectious enthusiasm. I smiled and laughed an awful lot.
The story of how the ‘chicken ranch’ is hounded out of business by a hypocritical alliance of church, media and politicians (nothing changes!) is well-known and of course the ladies are the sympathetic characters and the politicians and media the baddies.
Kingsley Hall’s simple set of American flag painted walls (with band costumes to match) and a trio of beds is effective enough, but it’s his excellent costumes which make the show look so good. Richard Jones’ choreography sparkles with wit and invention and the set pieces are electrifying.
I thought Sarah Lark would be too young and too sweet for Miss Mona, but that’s not so – she’s very good indeed, particularly in the singing department. There’s a brilliantly funny sheriff from James Parkes and an outrageous (though in truth a bit over-the-top) turn from Leon Craig as the TV man who leads the pack of persecutors. I also much enjoyed Lindsay Scigliano as Doatsey Mae and Jodie Lee Wilde as Dawn. In fact, the whole cast (including the now mandatory Strallen!) is terrific, with the ensemble numbers the high spots of the show.
Maybe it’s improved during the run, but for me it was about as much fun as you can have on a Sunday evening with your cloths on. Only one week left to see for yourself. - Gareth James
07 Nov 11
I LOVED this musical. From entering the theatre itself you get absorbed into the world of whoars and a few grumpy cowboys. I really enjoyed this musical and with some stellar performances from Nancy Sullivan and James Parke to the crazy outgoing comical performance of Leon Craig and the brilliant creative choreography and quirky intelligent direction from Paul Taylor Mills. It's a must see. I've seen it twice now, both nights some big named producers have been spotted int he audience. Can we expect a transfer? - Benjamin Newsome
30 Oct 11
Saw the production and if you are looking for fun this is it. But if you are looking the Film it is not. It is a marvel how shoch a production has managed to stage such a production is amazing. All though it may not be to everyones taste if you are looking for a night out you can't go wrong. Yes you can pick out certain bits but to be honest overall you leave feeling entertained. It was nice to be able to go to the theatre on a Sunday - Peter Collins
24 Oct 11
How this theatre manages to mount so many large-cast musicals is scarcely a mystery: they don´t pay most of the actors ... and in this show, which is a RENTAL of the space, not a Union Theatre production, it shows both in the unsuitability of most of the cast to their roles - delightful Sarah Lark, deserving of much better - and the atrociously naive cartoonish direction of Paul Taylor Mills. Again, if you saw his trite Big Gay Italian Wedding. - Denise Sheffield
23 Oct 11
WOS reviewer Giles Cole has really summed up my feelings about this musical. Great performances and choreography but disappointing content. Plot strands were not developed and the ending was an anticlimax. I also felt that the production was hampered by the lead role of Mona being played by an actor who was clearly too young for the part. Sarah Lark did her best but she must be in her twenties and the role was clearly intended for someone of around 40 or older. This ageing up would have been acceptable in a student production but not in a professional show when there are loads of great 40 plus musical theatre actors out there.In spite of all this, I would recommend people to go for the exuberant performances, good ensemble numbers and great choreography. - Diane Burstein
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