Wednesday, 31 August 2016

'Allegro' Southwark Playhouse ****

I am certain that most people would know the musicals from the iconic duo, Rogers and Hammerstein such as; ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘The King And I’ and ‘South Pacific’, but there are some shows from them that have not been staged for some time or in actual fact never been performed professionally whatsoever. Southwark Playhouse’s production of Rogers & Hammerstein ‘s musical, ‘Allegro’ which receives its European premiere was a beautifully captivating story, by the same token, the interpretations were exquisitely acted over the whole shows duration.

‘Allegro’ is set in the USA where we are familiarised with the birth of Joseph “Joe” Taylor Jr who’s father, Joseph Taylor Sr (Steve Watts) is the local town’s doctor and his mother, Marjorie Taylor (Julia J Nagle) are overjoyed by the birth of their first child. The locals of the town think that Joe will be immensely successful as we see Joe Jr progress through his childhood, Joe Jr experiences the death of his own gran, Grandma Taylor (Susan Travers) and as such; he is helped through his grief by Jennie Brinker and from this the two form quite a good bond. However, he hasn’t got any knowledge of what romance is and has not got the foggiest about asking her out on a date and due to the fact that Joe Jr is going to be going to university to study medicine it appears that any relationship will be out of the question. When Joe is at university, he meets Charles Townsend and the two form a good friendship where Charles instructs Joe on the many methods on how to woo the girls for example, Beluh (Leah West), on the other hand, he seems to be more concerned to what Jennie is doing and when they are reunited with Jennie, he quickly proposes to her and she accepts his proposal. Then again, not everyone is pleased by his choice of woman; specifically the ghostly figures of his mother and grandmother as well as, Jennie’s living father, Ned Brinker (David Delve). Over the course of the performance, Joe isn’t doing so well with his career as he is the assistant for his father-in-law, yet, when Joe is given a job in a posh Chicago hospital where his friend Charles is working and with a good push from Jennie, he welcomes the offer with open arms and because of this, he has to leave his father behind. The hospital itself is increasingly pretentious and Joe has become too heedless in his practices and is caught by the nurse, Emily West and thankfully lead physician, Bigby Denby (Matthew Woodyatt) is pleased with his work. On the contrary, during the countless of parties that they have to attend, Joe Jr’s wife, Jennie becomes infatuated by a sponsors charms and his name is Brook Landsdale (Samuel Thomas) whos wife, Mrs Landsdale is being treated with drugs by Joe Jr no less.  When Joe Jr is informed that his spouse has been having an affair, he decides to resign from his job and return to his hometown and work with his father, Charles and Emily in a place where the health of the patients are more important so at the finale, Joe Jr is now proud of what he has achieved in his work because he has proper morals and with a team that he respects, what more can he ask for. Oscars and Hammerstein’s narrative is awe-inspiring as we are taken on a journey of Joe Jr from his birth to his career as a doctor and with musical numbers such as; “Poor Joe”, “You Are Never Far Away”, “Money Isn’t Everything” and “Come Home” were so marvellous and brilliant composed and written. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘Allegro’ to be stupendous as the vocals from all and the dance moments were really terrific and they really incorporated the audiences as part of the whole performance. Gary Tushaw is gripping as lead protagonist, Joe Jr; especially how we see his journey as a student through to his job as a doctor and it was pleasant to see that he understood that he should go back to his routes and divorce his wife who is rather duplicitous; also his vocals in the musical numbers were wondrous. Dylan Turner is sublime as Joe Jr’s university friend, Charlie; primarily how different he is compared to that of Joe Jr as he goes with the flow rather a lot, but the friendship with Joe Jr and himself is very truthful and exceedingly pleasant to witness i.e. the scenes where he teaches Joe Jr about the art of seduction. Emily Bull is brilliant as Joe Jr’s appalling wife, Jennie; mainly how selfish she comes across where to be honest she should be focussing on the love she should have for her husband all she seems to care about is money and forces Joe Jr away from the people that he cares about and for her to cheat shows how horrendous she is. Katie Bernstein is nice as the nurse, Emily West; predominantly how we see that from her introduction to Joe Jr, we can see that she is the one that Joe Jr should have married as she makes Joe Jr comprehend that Joe Jr needs to return to his home town and help those who will appreciate his care. 

Thom Southerland’s direction is dynamite here and with Lee Proud’s choreography have helped present a premiere in the European continent with such tenacity and ease as we can see that people need to think about is that “Money Isn’t Everything” and that it is those who have helped you in some way mean more and that it’s them who should be given more love like Joe Jr realises about his father’s compassion for him. Anthony Lamble’s set design and Jonathan Lipman’s costume design were exceptional as we are transported to the many places of the USA and with the simplicity of using a contraption to move really worked and the costumes looked so attractive and greatly made by the costume makers. Overall, the experience of,’Allegro’ was one of pure delight and another miraculous production produced by Danielle Tarento who is one of the UK’s most prolific theatre producers.

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