Review Round-Ups

Show Boat sails into critics' hearts

Daniel Evans’ production opened at the New London Theatre yesterday evening

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"In this impassioned, supple staging by Daniel Evans, arriving in the West End from the Sheffield Crucible, it feels as relevant and powerful as ever. You leave the theatre singing the unforgettable songs, but also moved by the story you have witnessed."

"The performances are uniformly superb. Beck, with her soaring lyric soprano, grows beautifully from idealistic girl to dignified woman; Malcolm Sinclair brings real warmth to Captain Andy. Rebecca Trehearn breaks your heart as Julie."

"Best of all are the two who keep the melancholy loveliness of the music rolling – Emmanuel Kojo as dignified Joe brings just the right bite of disgust to "Ol' Man River", and when Sandra Marvin sings "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'" she sends shivers down the spine. Glorious."

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph


"It would be an absolute crying shame if theatregoers in the capital, so indulged with rival offers, didn’t press this big ambitious treat close to their hearts."

"We may not get to know them or the others well, but song after song has a depth of feeling that surprises, delights and moves: whether it’s "Only Make Believe", "Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man" or "Bill" – a song of devotion to an ordinary Joe which I can’t imagine being given a more heart-rending interpretation than Trehearn delivers here."

"You may be cynical about the call, but honestly: all aboard! You won't regret it."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out


"It’s just so far away from what you expect from a big commercial show these days – no reheated pop songs, no glib pop culture references, no star names, no bombastic special effects… All those things are genuinely brilliant when done right. But Daniel Evans’s production of Jerome Kerr and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1927 masterpiece – often cited as the first true musical – doesn’t need any of them."

"It’s an engaging story, eventually, but really the charm of Show Boat is more textural than narrative: the magic comes from the swelling, elegant score given the full orchestral treatment, the cast’s precise, powerful voices, the sense of time’s arrow hurting by, and the remarkable song that embodies this – "Ol' Man River", the musical’s mournful motif, given a titanic airing by Emmanuel Kojo’s Joe."

"This stirring, expensive revival of the first great American musical – as profound as it is sumptuous – feels so gloriously out of step with the rest of the West End that I wouldn’t bet on it going the distance. See it while you can, and if I’m wrong, see it again."

Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard


"It’s always a pleasure to welcome a classy production of a classic musical to the West End and director Daniel Evans has constructed just that in this triumphant transfer from the Sheffield Crucible."

"But those songs! Every number is a delight and the spirited ensemble brings each one to rousing life. The plangent refrains of "Ol’ Man River" and more upbeat philosophy of "Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man" thread their silky way through the show and Dan Delange’s orchestrations ply us with constant tempting samples of every number."

"Don’t miss this Boat."

Mark Shenton, The Stage


"The joy and surprise of Daniel Evans' mighty new production, a transfer from Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, is how compressed and fleet of foot it is here.. It manages the seemingly impossible: it maintains the epic sweep of the show, while also bringing its tender, poignant love stories into heartbreaking focus."

"Musically, too, the show is entirely honoured, with stunning vocal performances led by Emmanuel Kojo giving resonant voice to "Ol' Man River"as the stevadore Joe, Sandra Marvin's haunting delivery of "Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun", and thrilling Rebecca Trehearn who gives a heartbreaking rendering of "Bill"."

"One of the West End's most gorgeous shows."

Show Boat is booking at the New London Theatre until 7 January 2017.