LondonMusicalReview

Zorro The Musical – Charing Cross Theatre, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Writers: Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson

Director: Christian Durham

Book and Lyrics: Stephen Clark

Zorro – the sword-wielding hero at the heart of this story needs no introduction. The man behind the trademark mask,Diego, begins his life in a small Spanish colony in Los Angeles, shipped off to Spain by his father to join a military academy. Escaping to join a band of gypsies, drinking, dancing under the stars and travelling, he’s found his calling. But, when childhood friend Luisa comes searching for him after the death of his father, his nomadic lifestyle is uprooted, compelling him to go back home to save his community from his power-hungry brother Ramon, who has taken it upon himself to become leader and torture people into submission. Cue sword fights, romance, castanets and salsa dance routines on the path to Zorro’s fight for justice.

With his trademark black cape, hat and mask this splendidly swashbuckling saviour is exactly what the audience want. Zorro/Diego is bold, charming and brilliantly portrayed by Benjamin Purkiss. The original story by Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson is surprisingly well written, and sets up a solid backstory for the show, even though the main attraction is always going to be the dance numbers and music by The Gipsy Kings. With an abundance of toe-tapping tunes and skirt-spinning sequences, the audience cannot be disappointed.

With the stage in the centre, the cast and director Christian Durham do a fantastic job of utilising the space, ensuring that each scene is well covered for both sides of the audience, never feeling as though anyone is left out or missing any of the action. While there is some minimal use of fire and effects, it’s surprising that it isn’t utilised more, especially being that a key image when thinking of Zorro is an emblazoned Z, so not incorporating that in any way feels like a disappointing omission of a potential ‘wow’ moment.

Thankfully, the musical score and choreography are so mesmerising that it will leave a lasting memory for the audience. Almost stealing the whole show is the hilariously comedic Sergeant Garcia (Marc Pickering), whose moments on the stage elevate the funnier scenes in the script. As Ramon, Alex Gibson-Giorgio makes a brilliant villain, so much so that during the encore, his happy dancing with the rest of the cast is a shock to the system. Incredible female leads Inez (Phoebe Panaretos) and Luisa (Paige Fenlon) are passionate, emotive and endearing, and with fantastic singing voices to match. Additionally, all of the supporting cast are integral to keeping this high-energy, entertainingly fun production going, and they deliver in spades.

Transporting you into a world with this fabulous flamenco flair, it’s unlike anything else on the West End scene at the moment. This essence of originality breathes life back into the heart of theatre.

Runs until 28 May 2022

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Fabulous Flamenco Flair

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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