Tag Archives: Andy Coxon

"Curtains" at Wyndham’s Theatre

Although this musical comedy by Kander and Ebb – creators of Cabaret and Chicago – is never going to be regarded as their best work it’s still a credible piece, being clever, funny and always entertaining. It’s a spoof of musical theatre itself and of the detective genre, which means there’s a lot going on. Unfortunately, at the unhappy performance I attended, it feels that the content is simply too much for this company to tackle.

Jason Manford and Leah Barbara West
Jason Manford and Leah Barbara West

At an out-of-town run for a turkey of show called Robbin Hood, the drunken star is killed while taking an underserved bow. And since that death might be the best thing for those onstage and off, the suspects are plentiful. In a nice twist, our detective, Frank Cioffi, is a theatre lover who sets about saving the show as well as solving the crime. Jason Manford takes the sleuthing role and acquits himself well. It’s a shame that there’s too little chemistry with his love interest Niki (played by Leah Barbara West). These are well-written roles that feel neglected by director Paul Foster, who plumps instead for the eye-catching director and producer characters who provide comedy highlights via the performances of Samuel Holmes and Rebecca Lock.

Samuel Holmes in 'Curtain' at Wyndhams Theatre
Samuel Holmes

Kander and Ebb don’t make things easy for themselves (or anyone) as Robbin Hood is reworked, and improved before our eyes. It’s an interesting idea for lovers of the genre but needs more pace and more signposting than Foster provides. As Noises Off just down the road shows, when you pretend to be bad you really have to be very good. A delay at the start of my showing created suspicions of problems, then a real scenery malfunction created very much the wrong atmosphere.

Curtains The Musical credit The Other Richard
Alan Burkitt

Of course, this is just one performance in a long run, and such things happen. But there are other disappointments. Having only seen the show in a fringe production before, I should have found a large-scale version more exciting. Foster doesn’t infuse enough ambition into the piece and the stage seems sparsely populated. Alistair David’s choreography does not help; the dance seems laboured – no matter how well delivered by Alan Burkitt and Emma Caffrey, who do well with their roles as Bobby Pepper and Bambi Bernet – an awful lot of effort for little result. Worse still, Curtains should be a lot funnier: Rupert Holmes’ book builds expertly and the lyrics are smart. For some reason, the composers of the show within the show seem instructed not to even try for a laugh, which means that performances from Andy Coxon and Carley Stenson may sound great but end up – like the production as a whole – flat and disappointing.

Until 11 January 2020


Photos by Richard Davenport

“The Distance You Have Come” at the Cockpit Theatre

There are six big reasons to see this show, namely, every member of the cast. It’s a song cycle, from composer Scott Alan, with numbers vaguely related to relationships: their beginning and endings, and the fears, ambitions and dreams they provoke, including parenthood. And it’s important to remember the nature of the piece – as a showcase for Alan’s work – which is performed with upmost professionalism by an impressive collection of West End regulars.

Alan also directs and makes an effort to interweave the numbers, which works better musically than theatrically. There are recurring characters, but this is sometimes confusing and, in one instance (a number called Quicksand), downright jarring. But there’s no pretence at an over-arching story – the music is the focus and it’s strong. It’s no surprise Alan is so successful or boasts so many collaborators. His compositions have instant appeal and his carefully constructed melodies are delightfully lyrical. The lyrics themselves, though, are poor, crammed with repetition and cliché. Generally downbeat, the work is heavy on emotion and very light on humour. The sincerity might grate – it’s a question of taste –and there’s a general air of entitlement in the songs, Nothing More is a good case in point, a sweet duet where “All I want” turns out to be quite a long list!

Andy Cox and Adrian Hansel

The performers make the evening by squeezing the most out of the songs. Emma Hatton get the show off to a great start with a song about a performer’s ambitions – it’s a mock audition that makes you certain she would get any job. Andy Coxon and Adrian Hansel impress with their acting skills, as well as their voices, as they perform as a couple in a number of songs. Some of these are sickly sweet, so credit to both for grounding the pieces a little. Jodie Jacobs also adds value to her numbers; in truth she has more personality than the songs she’s singing, and she sounds great. Likewise, the strong voices of Dean John-Wilson and Alexia Khadime propel the songs. They both have beautiful voices, manage to make most of the earnestness convincing and, with a mix of sweetness and sheer power, are a privilege to hear. Accompanied by just piano and violin, The Distance You Have Comeprovides a chance to hear all six top-notch talents in an intimate setting that is well worth travelling for.

Until 28 October 2018


Photos by Darren Bell