Tag Archives: Andrea Miller

“H.R.Haitch” at the Union Theatre

This ridiculously silly new musical presents an alternative history for London in 2012 while at the same time taking a dig at present day problems. Crammed with jokes and a generous spirit, it is a great deal of fun.

There’s a catalogue of fears and wish-fulfilment: a Populist political party, formed only six months before the election, has promised a referendum on the monarchy – a Rexit – while a secret prince’s identity and mixed-race fiancée are about to be revealed to the public. A lot of crazy stuff… that’s not entirely crazy: writer and lyricist Maz Evans revels in all the potential parallels and absurdities.

There are too many jokes based on hindsight: recurring gags about the Olympics and Uber try too hard. But enough laughs land and it’s clear that, as the run beds down, the piece will get funnier. It’s great that there’s so much going – an imagined but recognisable royal group, including machinations for the throne, and a salt-of-the-earth family whose pub is in danger from gentrification – but director Daniel Winder needs to escalate the pace for a true farce. It’s a shame so much exposition (and time wasted) comes from fake news reports played on the pub TV. So the piece is far from polished to perfection. Luke Bateman’s music is overwhelmed by Evans’ imagination and the staging has ambitions beyond the cast. But the show is sound and has some characters that rightly rule over it.

Doubling roles as the family who run the Dog and Duck and the far more dysfunctional one that runs the country, Christopher Lyne, Andrea Miller and Prince Plockey acquit themselves well, despite some tentative moments. Emily Jane Kerr is consistently strong as the villainous Princess Victoria. But the crown jewels of the show are the Prince who has been slumming it and his modern-day Eliza Doolittle, born in Dagenham but called Chelsea. Here’s a sweet love affair for winning characters. Christian James makes his nice but dim heir to the throne truly likeable. Tori Allen-Martin’s working-class heroine sounds and looks great and is simply adorable, with a laugh so infectious it’s easy to believe this ‘pleb’ would win a plebiscite. Their love affair is aided by Bateman’s music and provides heart for the show, making this crazy fantasia deserve your vote.

Until 2 June 2018


Photo by Nick Rutter

“Slay it With Music” at The Space

The Space is an arts and community centre in Westferry Road, a short journey from Canary Wharf. The space in question is a converted church of modest dimensions, a former Presbyterian mission built by TE Knightly, that brims with potential and is used for a variety of performances, from chamber music and classic plays to new writing.

The current production, Slay it With Music, is the UK premiere of an off-Broadway show. It tells the story of a faded Hollywood star, Enid Beaucoup, who lives just down the road from Gloria Swanson and shares a case of sibling rivalry to match Baby Jane’s. Enid’s sister Marcy is a daytime soap star and isn’t keen on Enid’s comeback in a slasher movie entitled Chop Chop. She fears that the film will remind the world about the sisters’ infamous love triangle with a hairdresser, their ‘paramour coiffure’, which resulted in his bloody murder.

With tongues firmly in cheek, Joseph Walsh’s cast have plenty of fun in Slay it With Music. Given that it would be almost impossible to ham it up too much they are on safe ground. Walsh is also the choreographer and ensures the proceedings are sharp as a knife.

Taking the star role, Andrea Miller is the unhinged, pearl-bedecked Enid. Every sentence becomes an exclamation and her evil laugh is as camp as one might wish for.  Ellen Verenieks shows admirable comedy skills as Marcie and Andrew Hayler does especially well as the butler Zachery – as waspish as they come; his devotion to the former musical star is a trait astute musical theatre lovers might recognise in their more obsessive compadres. In a murder mystery musical who knows where such obsession will lead us?

Writer Michael Colby is certainly smart enough to supply us with a twist. Slay it With Music is a tender send-up, a hommage from a fan who knows his stuff. It teems with references – so much that Paul Katz’ music seems somewhat swamped. This is very much an evening for aficionados –potentially overwhelming if you don’t get the joke. But if you are in the know – it’s to die for.

Until 4 September 2011


Written 28 July 2011 for The London Magazine