Opening Night – 23rd June 2017
“A heart-warming musical featuring a talented and enthusiastic cast”
Any musical with lyrics from the award winning Sir Tim Rice is bound to attract attention. Not more so then when there is a huge interest in the recent announcement that Rice and Lloyd Webber’s Evita is shortly to return to the West End.
Blondel, currently playing at the Union Theatre, is a feel good rock opera with music by Stephen Oliver and words by Sir Tim Rice. Originally conceived by Sir Tim, the show was written at a time of mega musicals and was seen as a modest one. It did enjoy a West End run in 1983 with the part of Blondel being played by Paul Nicholas.
The musical follows the journey of Blondel, an ambitious monarchist and unappreciated musician working hard for his big break as a minstrel in King Richard The Lionheart’s court.
Whilst the history of Richard I makes for interesting reading, would a story set in 1189 about the Third Crusade make the basis for a great musical? The answer is a positive yes – it is a heart-warming and funny story with great music. Over 30 songs are well sung and supported by a band that never failed to please the ear.
There are powerful performances from a talented and enthusiastic cast. Connor Arnold plays the part of Blondel well. He has stage presence and apart from the odd occasion, has power in his voice to fill the room. Jesse May as Fiona, a feminist ahead of her time, has a lovely voice. However both may have benefitted from being miked.
Neil Moors is a brilliant King Richard and James Thackeray brings Prince John to life. The four monks hold the story together and add humour throughout. Special mention must go to Michael Burgen – his performance of the Assassin is worth the cost of admission alone.
A press night often adds pressure to cast members and even extra pressure was added as Sir Tim was there to observe the production. However the terrific cast were word perfect and appeared to enjoy the whole evening as much as those watching.
It was clear from the laughter, cheering and enthusiastic applause from the audience that this was a well received show that deserves a sold out run.
Production Photography by Scott Rylander
is running at The Union Theatre until 15th July