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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Little rocks: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes @TheUnionTheatre

Two ladies looking for wealthy men to marry might seem like an unusual musical for revival in this #metoo era. But with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the Union Theatre transforms into a bubbling 1920s escapist fantasy. Amongst the froth, there are also some shrewd observations about harassment and survival in a man’s world. And with a terrific cast, exhilarating dance numbers and a fabulous set and costumes, it has to be one of the best things to see on the fringe right now.

The tale of blonde gold-digger from Little Rock may be forever associated with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. Walking into the Union Theatre with its red stage feels like a reminder this is the show where Marilyn performs Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend. But the musical, which dates from an earlier, more risque time has a lot more to say than the film. Unwanted advances, criminal charges and a revolutionary device that will change the face of fashion. It’s all here among some exuberant musical numbers.

The mood is set from the start with a dazzling opening number led by Eleanor Lakin, and it never seems to let up. Particularly with the exciting dance sequences choreographed by Zak Nemorin and musical direction by Henry Brennan.

Abigayle Honeywill as the high pitched Lorelei has a great sense of comic timing and rich vocals. The rest of the cast serve the material well too and there are possibly a few stars in the making here.

The musical is based on Anita Loos best selling novel about various escapades of a blonde bombshell, Lorelei. She’s a gold-digger from the wrong side of the tracks and looking for a man. For dubious reasons she’s alone with her friend Dorothy as they travel across the Atlantic on their way to Paris. There are enough plots and subplots to boggle the mind, but the music by Julie Stone and lyrics by Leo Robin is full of memorable tunes. This production makes it a thrilling revival of a rarely seen musical in London.

Directed by Sasha Regan, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is at The Union Theatre until 26 October.


Photos by Mark Senior

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