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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

Theatre: Little Shop of Horrors

Paul Keating plays Seymour... Hello! Suddenly Seymour he purified everyone...

Tonight I caught Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory near London Bridge. Again it is another fantastic production that doesn't put a foot wrong. I have never seen a stage production of this show but this musical has been a long-time favourite of mine... There's a talking plant, a sadomasochistic dentist, a sweet girl and a nerdy boy. Throw in the late Howard Ashman's witty book and lyrics and Alan Menken's music and you have a very entertaining show. I knew almost every lyric in this show and found myself still laughing at the jokes... They still seem fresh and funny even though the show is approaching 25 years of age...

My excitement over Little Shop of Horrors surprised Mk who I went with. He likes the show too and normally we have rather different tastes in musical theatre. For instance he has seen Mamma Mia ten times and I just can't bring myself to seeing it yet... He also liked Cabaret which we kept arguing about all over dinner beforehand... It was somewhat of a relief that we could both agree that we enjoyed this production.

The show kept faithful to the original production (ignoring the changes made for the 1986 movie) and it was so well put together. It helped with a terrific cast which included Sheridan Smith as Audrey and Paul Keating (pictured above in an earlier role) as the nerdy Seymour. I mentioned to Mk that I did think PK was a bit of a looker and he thought I was daft. I think he couldn't get past the brown hair dye that had been inflicted on PK. Granted brown hair dye isn't a good look on anybody who is pasty white) but I was looking past that... Judging by photos on the internet of his previous acting jobs this was probably a sensible choice...

And as for Audrey II, that mean green mother came to life as a talking pitcher plant. Also of merit were the girl chorus who helped give the show its humour and lift. It was great stuff and although it has only just opened surely looks destined to transfer to the West End at some point next year... Particularly if the reaction of tonight's audience is any gauge of things...

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