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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

Smooth operator: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying @wiltonsmusichall

It feels a little like a high school musical with its clunky sets and actors cast in roles too old for them. But I still found How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at Wiltons Music Hall a lot of fun. Part of its fun is the memorable performance by Marc Pickering as the ambitious young executive.

Here you get the impression he is relying less on boyish charm and more on being sly and cunning to get ahead. Given the space of Wiltons he can look you in the eye and let you know he is out to get what he wants.  He also gives the classic songs in the show a fresh interpretation that feels as if they should be on an album.

It's tempting to dismiss the show about lustful executives and secretaries out to nab a man as sexist and dated. But the book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser doesn't take the period too  seriously. It is constantly poking fun of the early sixties life it is depicting.

As love interest and wily secretary Rosemary, Hannah Grover is sweet. Maisey Bawden, who wowed Palladium audiences getting "fricky fricky" in Honeymoon in Vegas last month shows spunk in her roles. Gerri Allen who gets the comic timing and mood of the show right as the streetwise secretary, Smitty.

The band under the musical direction of Ben Ferguson also sounded terrific.

It also helps after its "been a long day" to sit down and enjoy a show like this for its pure escapism. It's more fun than the Robert Morse film only because all the numbers remain in it (for better or worse). Only the lugging of furniture across the set... Or some of the attempts to choreograph big numbers with a small cast... Bring things crashing down to reality.

Directed by Benji Sperring, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is at Wiltons Music Hall until 22 April.


Photos by Darren Bell

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