What better time of the year than this festive season to launch this
undoubtedly charming but somewhat anodyne fairytale musical?
Based on a novella by William Makepeace Thackeray - a contemporary of Dickens
who is best known for his 1847 novel Vanity Fair (not to be confused
with the magazine) - The Rose and the Ring relates the twee but not sufficiently tantalising
story of a magic rose and a magic ring whose possession renders that person
irresistible to the opposite sex. Thus is set in motion a plot of romantic
intrigue and entanglements that sustain two hours of rather slight and
predictable theatrical entertainment.
While Peter Morris does a proficient job of illuminating this story through
his book and lyrics, Michael Jeffrey's undistinguished score
fails to give it any special edge. Mind you, there is nothing specifically wrong with Jeffrey's score - these are serviceable enough storytelling songs - but there's nothing elevating about it either.
At the end of a year that has seen little new of merit on London's musical
stages, it would have been refreshing to welcome a more original voice.
Never mind. Lucy Skilbeck's skilfully staged production keeps proceedings busy enough - sometimes too busy, on such a tiny stage - to maintain the interest.
ten-strong cast of accomplished West End performers, Paul Keating (late of
Closer to Heaven) and Julie-Alanah Brighten (late of Beauty and the
Beast) are reunited after their stint in the ill-fated Spanish musical La Cava. Meanwhile, Sally Bourne virtually steals the show.