Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Review: A Damsel in Distress at the Chichester Festival Theatre

A Damsel in Distress 
Chichester Festival Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 17th June 2015

Based on the novel by P.G. Wodehouse and featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin, director and choreographer Rob Ashford has brought A Damsel in Distress to the stage. 

Richard Fleeshman plays George, an American composer who meets Maud, a beautiful English socialite (played by Summer Strallen) and - in true theatrical fashion - it doesn't take long for the pair to fall madly in love. However, hurdles stand in their way, including Maud's not-to-be messed with aunt (played spectacularly by Isla Blair) who locks her niece in a tower... but can love prevail..?

A Damsel in Distress is a piece of old school, glamorous fun. Despite feeling a little drawn out and tedious at times, this new musical has been staged with class and style. The choreography is glorious, with the ensemble dazzling throughout (both Dave Roberts and Chloe Hart stand out, giving stellar performances in smaller roles).

Featuring tunes such as 'Nice Work If You Can Get It', 'I Can’t Be Bothered Now' and 'A Foggy Day (In London Town)', there are plenty of opportunities to tap your feet and become lost in the beauty of the era.

Since making the move into theatre, Fleeshman has made a name for himself for playing starring roles in more contemporary musicals such as Legally Blonde, Ghost and Urinetown. However, here he excels with a completely different character. It is refreshing to hear Fleeshman's smooth vocal talents taking on more classical numbers - and who knew he could pull off a tap routine?!

It is an utter joy to see Strallen back onstage in her Chichester debut. She makes her performance look so effortless, never putting a foot wrong. A true triple threat, Strallen brightens up the stage with stunning vocals and striking execution of the choreography whilst pitching the comedy to perfection. Elsewhere Desmond Barrit and Sally Ann Triplett steal scenes - the entire supporting cast are terrific.

Although certain moments could be tightened and the running time should be trimmed, Ashford's production is joyfully marvellous. Deserving of life after Chichester, A Damsel in Distress is fabulous fun, featuring some truly golden moments. 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

A Damsel in Distress runs at the Chichester Festival Theatre until 27th June 2015.
Please visit www.cft.org.uk for further information and tickets.

Photo Credit: Johan Perrson

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