Music: Kurt Weill
Book: SJ Perelman and Ogden Nash
Lyrics: Ogden Nash
Director: Lydia Milman Schmidt
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
Written in 1942 as an attempt to keep up the spirits of a war torn America up ‘One Touch of Venus’ is a fun, light hearted and satirical musical that gives you plenty to laugh about and something to think about too. When the downtrodden barber Rodney Hatch mistakenly turns the beautiful statue of Venus into a real woman confusion reigns as Rodney fights to keep his fiancée and her mother happy while being pursued by the other worldly Venus who has fallen in love with him. Meanwhile the owner of the statue, an artist by the name of Savory, is desperate to have his possession returned to him.
With lyrics by the American poet Ogden Nash and the music by Kurt Weill the audience expect that they are going to be in for a witty and musically rewarding evening, and this production doesn’t disappoint. The observational one liners spoken by the characters evoked shouts of laughter from the audience due to the originality and timing of them and the power of the writing did not weaken throughout the whole performance. Aaron Clingham confidently led the ensemble through the tricky and demanding music with ease and enthusiasm. You quickly forgot that it was just one man on a piano accompanying the piece and not a full orchestra which it would have been in the original production.
The ensemble singing was performed enthusiastically and the small cameo rôles taken by members of the company were created in a funny and effective way. Special mention must go to Kendra McMillian (Venus) and David Jay-Douglas’ (Rodney) tender rendition of ‘Speak Low’, both actor’s created characters that the audience could empathise with and although an ‘odd couple’ convinced us of their love for each other. Also to Jay-Douglas, Samuel Clifford (Taxi), Benjamin Mahns- Mardy (Stanley) and James Wolstenholme’s (Savory) comic and technically brilliant performance of ‘The Trouble With Women’.
With such a strong musical score the movement and dancing needed to be just as strong and again this production does not disappoint. The two ballets that the audience was treated to were not only beautifully choreographed by Rhiannon Faith but also used the limited space in an innovative way. The story of each ballet was clearly told through the movement and they really gave the ensemble the chance to showcase their dancing abilities.
The one area of this show that weakened it was the story. Although all the principle rôles were executed incredibly well the storyline was not able to support the sheer amount of songs with reprises, ballets and dialogue. Some members of the audience became disengaged at points and with Act 1 lasting 1hr 30 mins and Act 2 at 1hr it was felt that it was just too long.
Overall this is a polished and professional production that contains beautiful and well performed music as well as comic and confident performances from the whole cast.