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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Jubilee is a 1930s musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a simple story by Moss Hart. It was apparently written while Porter and Hart were enjoying an extended cruise, which may be at the root of the froth and frivolity that fills this musical.

The plot is simple. Four members of a royal family decide they are bored of being royal and head out to experience something of the real world. Each of them encounters someone who makes them realise that there is more to life than stuffy pomp and ceremony.

The Queen (Amy Cooke-Hodgson) meets her movie hero, ‘Mowgli’, aka actor Charles Rausmiller (Herman Gambhir). The Prince (Charlie Guest) and Princess (Alana Asher) meet the celebrity subjects of their infatuation, starlet Karen O’Kane (Emma Williamson) and playwright and actor Eric Dare (Jonathan Leinmuller). The King (Robert Paul) has a chance encounter in a park with socialite Eva Standing (Kathleen Culler) that leads him to being able to publicly perform his ‘string trick’ for the first time.

A large ensemble cast work well together in this surprisingly large-scale production – the ‘overture’ sequence features seven couples tap dancing in unison, a feat in itself on such a small stage. Noteworthy individual performances are Cooke-Hodgson’s comedic Queen, who is funny without being too pantomime dame-ish, Gambhir’s nice-but-dim Rausmiller (the skimpiness of his costumes will be appreciated by many), and Leinmuller’s Dare, a witty take-off of Noel Coward. There are no real weak links, but Culler could afford to turn down the shrillness a couple of notches and still retain the comedy.

There are some impressive vocal talents on display, although the sound balance needs some work: Cooke-Hodgson overpowers Paul in their duet 'Me And Marie', and the musical accompaniment overpowers Williamson’s pretty vocals as she performs a full-on brassy burlesque routine to the show’s best-known tune, 'Begin The Beguine'.

Jubilee is a product of its time and as such is rather dated, but this production embraces that as a source of humour. It’s intended to be light and frothy rather than deep and meaningful, and as a result is likely to make you tap your feet and leave the Tabard whistling one of its tunes.


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