London Musical” is a great choice for the Queen's 2016 Community
lively, it's a crowd-pleaser, and, like most of the company, and the
audience, and indeed Madness themselves, it has its roots just down
the road in NW1.
Community Musical has a long tradition at the Queen's. Every other
year, a performing company is formed from scratch, to work with
professional creatives – the aim is to get local people involved in
the vibrant life of their local playhouse. This year's cast numbers
more than fifty, and includes people of all ages from East London and
well as Havering.
by Ros Philips, they fill the stage with school kids and convicts,
bringing Las Vegas and Camden Market to life on the huge Queen's
Watson's versatile set features a semi-transparent terrace for Casey
Street, with spinning black/white doors for the crucial choices. The
familiar numbers are in the safe hands of Andrew Linham's superb
band, proudly wearing red sparkly bowlers, with pit prop bric-a-brac
spilling over into their house, too.
on opening night there were issues with balance, meaning that
dialogue and lyrics were lost; they are helpful, even to those of us
who know the show well, to keep the ingeniously plotted narrative on
member of the company makes a unique contribution to the success of
Our House, from the diminutive denim dancers to Joe's Dad – Paul
Robinson an imposing figure in his ghostly suit. Joe Watch makes a
convincingly confused school-leaver; Becky Smith is Sarah, the girl
he almost loses. Fine character work from the vacuous Angie and
Billie (Hayley Sanderson and Lauren Sanders), and their male
counterparts, “gormless prats” Emmo and Lewis (Oliver Barry-Brook
and Conor Dye). A lovely warm performance from Kerry Lawson as Kath –
her big number is a musical highlight. Forces of darkness include
Jenson Grech's slimeball Reecey and Mandy Lyes' forbidding Pressman.
of energy in the big ensembles, though the choreography tends to be
static, and some excellent staging: Camden Market, the Nightboat to
Cairo with the puppet lovers, and the
grey stripes of the prison contrasting with the rose-tinted dream
rapturous reception from the first-night fans, cheers and applause
sustained through the megamix curtain calls. But disco dazzle and
Mexican waves are no substitute for real emotional engagement with
the characters and their moral dilemmas, only occasionally achieved
in this ambitious community venture.