''Holly Golightly'', running as part of the Lost Musicals season at Sadler's Wells, features good performances but has hit and miss songs, says Emma Watkins
The Lost Musicals series, curated and directed by Ian Marshall Fisher, chronicles neglected and lost works written by famous Broadway figures, presenting them as semi-staged workshop style performances. The current show (playing every Sunday in September) is Holly Golightly, a musical version of Breakfast At Tiffany's based on both Truman Capote's novella and the 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn.
Despite a top-calibre creative team (producer David Merrick, composer Bob Merrill and writer Abe Burrows), a stellar pair of leads (Mary Tyler Moore and Richard Chamberlain) and advance sales of $1 million, the show never made it past its fourth preview on Broadway. This is therefore a unique opportunity to taste a little of what might have been.
The cast portray their roles with varying degrees of success, although it would be unfair to be too critical of performers weighed down with scripts and working without scenery or props. Holly Dale Spencer does a great job as Holly, and particularly enjoyable in their smaller roles are Jonathan Dryden as mob boss Sally Tomato and Stewart Permutt as Holly's Japanese neighbour Mr Yunioshi. Musical director Chris Walker also deserves a mention for his solo accompanist role, providing piano and several sound effects.
As might be expected from a show that was pulled before it ever opened, some songs are stronger than others. Holly gets a couple of the best numbers, including "Travelling" which nicely defines her unwillingness to settle down, and "I've Got A Penny" in which she acknowledges that she may not have much but still resolves to live life to the full.
Other noteworthy numbers include "So Here We Are Again", a group song in which Holly's neighbours bemoan her habit of waking them up at all hours when she forgets her key; "Nothing Is New In New York", which one can imagine could be expansively staged to make a great second act opener; and "Ciao, Compare", an amusingly clichéd number sung by Sally Tomato.
Holly Golightly certainly makes for an interesting evening. You feel rather like part of an audience invited to a workshop performance prior to an out-of-town try-out prior to a Broadway opening, and the semi-staged nature is akin to reading a book and allowing your mind to fill in some of the detail.
However, the show does feel overly long and some of the numbers fall a little flat. In short, this is one musical curio that quite possibly will never see the light of day as a full production; so take this opportunity to see it if your interest is piqued!
- Emma Watkins