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Honeymoon in Vegas review at London Palladium – ‘joyful and thrilling’

Arthur Darvill and Samantha Barks in Honeymoon in Vegas
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The London Musical Theatre Orchestra, founded in June 2015, presents its most ambitious and revelatory work to date: the UK premiere for Jason Robert Brown’s short-lived 2015 Broadway musical Honeymoon in Vegas

Brown is best known as the writer of the game-changing Tony-winning Parade. Honeymoon in Vegas, based on the 1992 film, is a defiantly old-fashioned musical comedy of the old school that contains some of his most accessible and fun songs yet. He has given it a brassy Big Band jazz sound – a perfect match of form and content for a show set in Vegas – and it’s performed to absolutely thrilling effect by the 30-strong LMTO, with the composer himself joining the orchestra as guest conductor.

The show is also blessed here with a cast of fine comedy and singing talent that bring the show’s sometimes queasy characterisations to full life. In its story of a commitment-phobic man who promises his fiancee a quick Vegas wedding but instead pimps her out as payment for a gambling debt he incurs before he gets to the wedding chapel, there’s an underlying comic unease; and Arthur Darvill affectionately embraces those contradictions. He’s a great singer too, though those of us who saw him in Once already knew that.

Samantha Barks has a sweet-voiced integrity as his fiancee, while there’s good comic support from Maxwell Caulfield as the man who tries to come between them, and Rosemary Ashe, Simon Lipkin and Nicolas Colicos in other roles.

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Joyful concert version of a 2015 Broadway musical performed with real heart and great musicianship