dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Rothschild and Sons review at Park Theatre, London – ‘old-fashioned’

The cast of Rothschild and Sons at Park Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton The cast of Rothschild and Sons at Park Theatre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
by -

Mayer Rothschild, the founder of the Rothschild dynasty, roes out of the Frankfurt ghetto to establish a bank in his name.

Originally staged as The Rothschilds in 1970, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s musical draws on Frederic Morton’s biography, paring it back to tell a fairly intimate tale of one man’s relationship with his five sons.

While there are obvious similarities with the far more successful Fiddler on the Roof, the show is marred by a baffling lack of female voices.

The sole female character is Rothschild’s woefully underwritten wife Gutele. Bock’s variable score reinforces the masculine tone of the piece, as do Harnick’s lyrics while Sherman Yellen’s book manages to truncate the Rothschild story into a single act.

The resulting musical may be relatively short but it also manages to drag, switching from family politics to European politics with little time to develop either.

Jeffrey B Moss’ modest revival is well presented, featuring several strong performances from Broadway regulars Glory Crampton and especially Robert Cuccioli as Mayer.

Cuccioli’s carefully modulated baritone lends a necessary authority to Mayer, but Crampton barely gets the opportunity to show what she can do. Her only solo Just a Map, barely scratching the surface of her character, compared to the emotional resonance of Mayer’s In My Own Lifetime, arguably the most beautiful number in the score.

There are some witty asides from Tony Timberlake, who brings a heavy element of camp to his performance, but otherwise this is a rather old-fashioned musical theatre curiosity.

Lyricist Sheldon Harnick: ‘Every time I hear Sondheim, I ask: Am I working hard enough?’

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Modest revival of a musical about the famous banking dynasty that lacks a female perspective
^