Review Round-Ups

Did the critics enjoy Mrs Henderson Presents?

The West End transfer opened at the Noel Coward theatre last night

Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage


"Mrs Henderson Presents is an old-fashioned musical in a good way: it celebrates the long-gone Windmill Theatre and its famous Revue-de-ville – front cloth comics, naked tableaux, cheerful war-time patriotism – while telling a story of showbiz survival against the odds.

"Johnson directs his own show, first seen at the Theatre Royal, Bath, last August, with his customary panache and a few cast changes, well aided by Andrew Wright's neat, period-style choreography and Tim Shortall's atmospheric onstage and back-stage design."

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard


"Let's not beat around the euphemism: Mrs Henderson Presents is a show about breasts, getting them out and their small but vital role in the defeat of Hitler. "

"…how dispiriting it is to see a West End stage in 2016 filled with topless women. I am by no means alone in finding the "it’s all just good, honest fun" argument long expired."

"The musical, with a book by director Terry Johnson, shares with the film a desperate lack of momentum. As for the songs, there are a lot of them from Don Black (lyrics) and George Fenton and Simon Chamberlain (music), but none are memorable."

Mark Shenton, The Stage


"This musical…doesn't shy from occasional hard edges. Instead, by concentrating on the backstage lives of the dancers and management of the Windmill, there's more of a jaunty, frequently patriotic, flavour to it – that both sings and occasionally stings."

"[The score] comes into its own a couple of times as an original work, thanks to the soaring melodic quality that Emma Williams brings to songs like "If Mountains Were Easy to Climb", or the touching sincerity of Ian Bartholomew in "Living in a Dream World"."

"While shows like Calendar Girls and The Full Monty, both of which coincidentally also played at the Noel Coward, coyly didn't quite show all – the girls in the former hid behind buns and other objects, the boys in the latter had their modesty protected by a blinding light at the key moment – there's no such inhibition here, with the girls showing all."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"This remarkable story of hedonism and heroism was ably told in a charming, modestly successful 2005 Britflick starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. Now a musical version of the tale has made it into the West End, following a well-received try-out in Bath last summer."

"The playwright Terry Johnson, who has written the book and directs, is the man who gave us a disrobing Kathleen Turner in The Graduate – but this is a veritable breast bonanza by comparison. Titillating, perhaps – but empowering? There’s bound to be a debate on that, but Johnson and co reportedly claim so. "

"In short, the show’s heart is in the right place. Its art, however, is somewhat lacking. I kept thinking: where’s the dramatic meat?"

Mrs Henderson Presents runs at the Noel Coward Theatre until 18 June.