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The Musical Of Musicals (The Musical!) review at Above the Stag, London – ‘witty musical revue’

The cast of The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!) at Above the Stag, London. Photo: PBG Studios
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There’s something quite old-fashioned about Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart’s 2003 musical parody The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!). As you might guess from the title, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously as it satirises the form and structure adopted by five of the greatest musical composers of the 20th century.

Rockwell affectionately mimics the composer’s written style with razor-sharp accuracy, while Bogart’s mischievous lyrics tease the audience with a game of spot-the-reference.

One simple story is repeated in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Herman, Sondheim, Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb. It’s similar if slightly more polished show than Gerard Alessandrini’s Forbidden Broadway, but unlike that 1982 Broadway revue, it has so far failed to update itself. This makes no difference to accomplished musical theatre director Robert McWhir, who mines the playful score for as much camp humour as it will allow.

The performances measure up to Rockwell’s score with Charlotte Christensen and Cecily Redman dominating each scene as the Ingenue and the Matron respectively.

Christensen, with a keen eye for visual comedy excels as the winsome, doe-eyed heroine of any Rodgers and Hammerstein vehicle while Redman dominates as Abby, a knowingly-camp version of Herman’s Dolly/Mame. Redman is equally, over-the-top  as the fading diva Abigail von Starr but the accolade for scenery-chewing excess goes easily to James Thackeray, playing each villain with eye-rolling sincerity.

Together with Sev Keoshgerian as every musical’s young hero, the ensemble work tightly to keep the pace tight and the laughs on an even keel.

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Witty musical theatre revue with a heavy dose of camp