Filmed Recorded at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
People may tell you the work of Rodgers & Hammerstein is overly sentimental and old hat. Move on, they’ll say. We need to reinvent the musical for today’s audiences. These people are flat wrong. In fact, if I’m describing people you know, disown them because they have no heart. Really. Leave them to enjoy Dear Evan Hansen and the rest.
Or actually, you could invite them to My Favorite Things, The Rodgers & Hammerstein 80th Anniversary Concerton the big screen. They’ll be powerless to resist Richard Rodgers’ soaring melodies and Oscar Hammerstein’s direct, straight-to-the-heart lyrics performed by a cavalcade of West End and Broadway stars. The show was filmed at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane last year and now, in a trend all theatre lovers should be applauding, forms the latest theatrical event to be made available through a nationwide cinema release.
Between songs, Julian Ovenden, recently in a Chichester revival of South Pacific, describes Rodgers & Hammerstein as ‘musical theatre’s Shakespeare.’ He has a point. Until Oklahoma (1943), shows were essentially revues. Only when Curly experienced his ‘Beautiful Morning’ did songs start to play a role in character development and storytelling. It’s something we, of course, take entirely for granted now.
All the hits are present. There are also some rarely-performed gems and songs from a 1957 TV version of Cinderella I hadn’t heard of but will certainly investigate. I haven’t the space to list the full cast, but multiple Tony Award winner Audra Macdonald stands out, including performing the finale – a rousing ‘Climb Every Mountain’. Recent Olivier Award winner Marisha Wallace is a delight. She wins the best-dressed category too in a fantastic array of frocks. Anna Jane-Casey charms with The Sound of Music’s ‘Lonely Goatherd’. It is nonsense, of course, but she delivers it with a twinkle in her eye.
For the men, Daniel Dae Kim gives us his King with a welcome outing for a lesser-known King & I song, ‘It’s a Puzzlement’. He also reunites with former co-star Maria Friedman for ‘Shall We Dance’. Former Eastender Jonny Labey taps up a storm with a talented ensemble for Oklahoma’s ‘Kansas City’. Dear old Michael Ball pops up with a couple of songs including the football anthem, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. He also has the task of introducing Andrew Lloyd Webber to the stage. Lord Webber’s bumbling self-indulgent anecdotes have clearly been edited down. I suspect he paid for the whole thing, so editing him out entirely was probably not on the cards. An appearance by a genuine legend, in contrast, brings the house down. 92-year-old Rita Moreno, star of South Pacific and The King and I, arrives to huge applause. She has the good grace to reference that her casting above Asian actors at the time was problematic, acknowledging that times have changed for the better. She also tells a rather scandalous anecdote about prim-and-proper Deborah Kerr, which is worth the ticket price alone.
Faultless technically, everything looks and sounds tremendous. The 40-piece orchestra seems to be having a ball too. If you’re a fan of musical theatre seeing My Favorite Things may well become one of your favourite things – spelt incorrectly for this side of the Atlantic you’ll note. The fact I am willing to forgive such a crime speaks volumes about the quality of the entertainment on offer.
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein
Director & Choreographer Christopher Gatelli
Directed for the Screen Julia Knowles
Music Supervisor & Conductor Simon Lee
Musical Director Malcolm Forbe-Peckham
Producers Rob Bagshaw, Austin Shaw, Concord, Kilimanjaro Live, JAS Theatricals
Screenings in Cinemas across the UK & Ireland : February 14th-21st, 25th, 28th, 29th and March 10th, 21st
Further information and booking details can be found here.