It would be unsurprising if First Daughter Suite constituted a significant hat-trick for the Public, following, as it does, in the footsteps of Fun Home (which won the Tony Award for Best Musical) and Hamilton (which surely will win that Tony Award this year). It is a mature, sophisticated, joyful and challenging musical work, hilarious and heart-breaking in equal measure. It’s a triumph, unquestionably.
The Book of Mormon begins long before you step into the theatre. London is adorned with its posters, our offices echo with remembered jokes and songs. As you enter Leicester Square, you are bottlenecked towards the Prince of Wales – particularly if there’s a film premiere – and when you step up to the theatre, you are encircled by queues for entry and ticket collection alike. The atmosphere is spellbinding, and the weight of expectation is colossal. I’m delighted to say that my expectations were met.
Finding Neverland is a truly magical musical theatre experience. The score is lively and quite quite beautiful. From ballads to raucous boy songs and big, generous ensemble pieces, plus an exceptional anthem or two – Barlow and Kennedy really deliver the goods. Without question, though, the star here is Matthew Morrison, who gives a boundlessly energetic turn as the troubled playwright J.M.Barrie. Morrison is better than he has ever been.
For 90 minutes of ecstatic storytelling, you are transported to a place where love, death and consequence are dancing together and where a victory for true love might just not be what you first think it will. Chita Rivera, an incandescent star of the Broadway stage in undiminished glory, is faultless. One of the best of Kander & Ebb’s musicals, The Visit is the best, most important, musical currently playing on Broadway.
There is noting rotten here. Rather, Something Rotten is firm, juicy, fruity, perfectly cultivated, tart, sweet, and every segment, every layer that is peeled back, is full of life. It is almost an orgasm of enjoyment; an ode to the musical form, one that both satirises it’s subject and treats it with loving affection. Broadway will be hard pressed to find a tighter, more superbly tuned company than this one.
Mikey Jay-Heath is superb as Tom Thumb and his big number, Bigger Isn’t Better, is wonderful in every way. Landi Oshinowa displays great vocal chops, twice. Her Joyce Heth number, Thank God I’m Old, is vocally aglow and her second Act number, Black and White, is a solid jazz/blues number. There are some terrific cameos from Nick Butcher and Edward Wade, both of whom are accomplished triple-threats with bright futures. But this is not Barnum at its best.