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.
In a 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.