Here's hoping for a hit
When Simply Cinderella opened at Curve, I wrote to the Leicester Mercury to complain about the show. Certainly not one to be remembered.
Since then, I have seen dozens of shows at Curve, including the stunning The King and I and the magnificent Pillowman – both directed magisterially by Paul Kerryson.
These home-grown productions and many of the visiting shows have established Curve's deserved reputation in the provinces.
Three years later and Leicester audiences have been privileged to see the world premiere of Finding Neverland.
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My family saw the show at the weekend and we were pleasantly surprised.
The website promised us "adventure, comedy and romance". Well, we had all three but in differing proportions.
Did it live up to its hype? Partly.
The scenic and projection designers were on top form and there were many imaginative touches which really helped to conjure up the Edwardian period.
A gigantic fireplace and huge chandeliers – the latter providing pirates with hair-raising access to the stage – were of high quality, as were the projections on to gauzes which were most effective in the letter-writing sections and in the car journey, too.
The performers gave it their all. Outstanding were the four Llewelyn Davies boys in last Saturday evening's performances.
With clear-toned and admirable diction, effective acting and good singing – even in the harmonies – they almost stole the show from the adults and would have done so were it not for the audience-pleasing St Bernard dog.
The adults all played their parts well. Julian Ovenden, the undoubted star of the show, was barely off the stage and, while his voice was mellifluous and sure-toned throughout, he has a very emotionally driven part which is a hard to feel empathy with.
He was worth hearing for his singing alone, but his character was rather one-dimensional and that was not entirely the problem of the script.
His ladies were effective on stage, although for me Clare Foster, as his estranged wife, was the easily the strongest performer.
Rosalie Craig seemed slightly strained on some of her vocal lines but her character came across beautifully. The ensemble was quite brilliant but mostly underused.
The pirates were successfully rumbustious in their fantastic ship and Oliver Boot, as Hook, was magnificent.
The other roles were mostly underdeveloped. It was a shame these parts weren't explored rather more as they were performed with gusto.
Does it come across as a musical that will survive for many productions to come? Possibly not.
The high-quality production elements are all in place, despite some of the flying not happening – shades of Curve's own Peter Pan here – but any musical needs to survive on the fact the songs must be memorable and these aren't.
They are quite melodious and some of the lyrics are clever but they generally lack the narrative or emotional pull needed for the drama or, more crucially, tunes that can be sung on leaving the auditorium.
A fatal flaw in what is effectively an old-fashioned style musical.
What rescues the music of this show is the terrific vocal and orchestral arrangements and a show band to die for.
These superb musicians alone made the evening worthwhile.
Producer Harvey Weinstein and the director/choreographer Rob Ashford are to be congratulated for bringing this work to Curve and, therefore, to some of the most astute audiences in the provinces.
Despite some misgivings, therefore, I wish the musical much success.
David Fisher, Leicester.
I totally agree with Peter Wykes's letter (Mailbox, October 2) in which he has taken exception to Lizz Brain's review of Certified at the Curve.
I felt her review bore no resemblance to the enjoyable performance my husband and I and the rest of the audience witnessed last Tuesday.
It was entertaining and funny and well worth seeing.
Christine Wilde, Blaby.