The Merry Widow

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Theatre Royal

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> Norwich Theatre Royal

This year the “Merry Widow” celebrates her centenary.

But in this witty new English version by Jeremy Sams she is not showing her years, though Michael McCaffery's production for the Carl Rosa Company keeps its period flavour.


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It needs to and the advantages are immediately obvious in a show that grafts Ruritian complications on the glitter of Paris before the Great War to create a good deal of humour and even more romance.

The plot is hardly worth bothering about – it simply creates the framework for a kaleidoscope of colourful episodes and Franz Lehar tied them together with sentimental tunes that melt every heart and sweep away every critical reservation.

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For this is a society in which love still makes the world go round, provided, mind you, there is still a bit of cash to oil the axles.

Ladies in magnificent gowns and pretty girls from Maxim's to dance the cancan in their petticoats take their partners, sober-suited gentlemen, diplomats who would fling away their glittering decorations for the sake of just one more amorous adventure.

You can't take it seriously, but who would ever want to, the chances of slipping into a world where emotions bubble like champagne is simply too good to be missed.

Margaret Preece heads the cast, with a touch of gipsy glamour to go along with the millions she is supposed to possess.

All that lovely money, those artful eyes, those swaying motions, that voice that throbs with one of those melodies that capture the spirit of the age!

Who could resist? Count Danilo, Loren Geeting, makes some endeavour. But, of course, he gives in at the end.

Around this couple there is a cast rich in characters and hearty in voice, though Ivan Sharpe is tested by his highest notes.

Musical director Wyn Davies keeps up the pace, though letting it slacken for the emotional climaxes in the best authentic style, and his orchestra provides support and instrumental colour without ever threatening to overwhelm the singers.

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