Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: Bar Mitzvah Boy at Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Bar Mitzvah Boy
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Reviewed on Thursday 10th March 2016

Adapted by Jack Rosenthal from his 1976 TV play, shockingly Bar Mitzvah Boy hasn't been seen in London since the original production opened in 1978 and closed after 78 performances. Following the stressed Green family as they prepare for their only son's Bar Mitzvah, the musical is a perfectly pitched observational comedy.

Jule Styne and Don Black's score moves the show along nicely, there are some sweet songs for thirteen year old Adam Bregman who makes a remarkable stage debut as Eliot; overall the score is lively and fun - you almost don't even realise that a song is beginning, Stewart Nicholls' production flows smoothly and is paced well.

Sue Kelvin is an absolute dream as Rita, the mother of the North London family. We all know a Rita, and Kelvin gives a tremendous performance - it is criminal for her to ever leave the stage. From the tiniest of facial expression to the impeccable delivery of her character's snappy remarks, Kelvin embraces every moment and gives the performance of the night.

Elsewhere Lara Stubbs and Nicholas Corre bring a hilarious dynamic to the piece as young couple Lara and Harold, the latter of whom is constantly trying to impress the parents of his girlfriend. Robert Maskell, Hayward B Morse, Hannah Rose-Thompson and Jeremy Rose complete the ensemble of fine actors - everyone fully commits.

I can't understand why it has taken so long for Bar Mitzvah Boy to return to the London stage. Whilst Bar Mitzvah Boy is a lot of fun, the show also has heart as Eliot searches for what it means to be a man. Perfectly suited to the small setting of Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Bar Mitzvah Boy is a gentle musical which a lot of people will be able to relate to; it's funny without being offensive.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)


  1. Raymond Langford Jones11 March 2016 at 14:27:00 GMT

    Yes, it's a really charming revival of a sadly neglected piece. Congratulations Aria, Cast, Stewart Nicholls et al!

  2. So delighted to read these reviews. I think Don Black's lyrics are some of his best, personal, warm and funny whilst Jule Styne's music glows with a nostalgic nod to the London her grew up in.