Tag Archives: Michael Lin



Theatre Royal Drury Lane

YOUR LIE IN APRIL at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane


“Frank Wildhorn’s sumptuous score sweeps through the auditorium with its rousing ballads”

Midway through Act Two of “Your Lie In April” something extraordinary happens. Zheng Xi Yong, as the young musical prodigy Kōsei Arima, places himself at the piano and delivers an impassioned and outstanding solo. A moment during which the music demonstrates its unique power to lift us out of the world that surrounds us. Quite rightly it brings us to our feet as the final chords melt away into a brief silence before the applause. The emotion is heightened in the context of Yong’s character. A child prodigy, Kōsei Amina has a mental breakdown following the death of his mother. Although his hearing is otherwise unaffected, he is no longer able to hear the sound of his own piano.

For years he doesn’t touch the piano. Until he meets Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist who coaxes him back into playing. Miyazono teaches Arima that it is okay to occasionally deviate from the score; to let the music truly express the emotion rather than to seek the perfection that crippled him and that was instilled in him by his overbearing mother. Rumi Sutton gives us a polished performance as the manic Kaori, concealing her love for Kōsei with a lie that gives the musical its title.

The other shining star in this show is featured violin soloist, Akiko Ishikawa. Spotlit each time she underscores Sutton’s mimed recitals, it is a smart device. No director in their right mind would expect their leading lady to act, sing and play the violin simultaneously. Director and choreographer Nick Winston has eked out fine performances from the couple, mixing splashes of comedy with their story of unrequited love.

It is a fairly simple premise – but perhaps fleshed out too much – based on Naoshi Arakawa’s Manga series of the same name. Frank Wildhorn’s sumptuous score sweeps through the auditorium with its rousing ballads, interspersed with the odd, quirky upbeat number. Wildhorn demonstrates his skill at throwing in the unexpected just at the right moments and just as we think the score might become generic, we are met with some gorgeous modulations and chord changes. Sutton’s voice handles this all with ease and emotional strength.

Jason Howland’s musical arrangements call on an expansive ensemble that, despite yielding rousing choruses, is perhaps unnecessarily large for the show’s material. Likewise, we are offered a subplot that, although necessary for the understanding of the relationships, feels coincidental and secondary. There is a heart wrenching intimacy to the story that gets lost occasionally in the fanfare and flourishes. The detail is in the romance; the friendships and selfless sacrifices, and the broken hearts. And we want to look up close at the human element, rather than from up in the Gods through a wall of sound.

But, with credit to the committed ensemble company, we are still drawn in, and we feel for the protagonists. She, who only reveals her love when it is too late and he, who cannot hear his own music. He learns, however, to listen to it in his heart. We, the audience, are lucky enough to have one up on him. “Your Lie In April” is a musical that touches our hearts, but we also get to savour each and every note delivered with masterful vocals.

YOUR LIE IN APRIL at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Reviewed on 8th April 2024

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior







Previously reviewed at this venue:




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The Rink – 4 Stars


The Rink

Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 29th May 2018


“The action switches from past to present with alarming frequency but Adam Lenson’s polished direction never leaves us in any doubt as to where we are”


We’ve all had that moment, when having to pack up a room or leave a house; and each possession, as it gets boxed up, can transport us back in time. What should be a straightforward task becomes an extended stroll down memory lane. We know we are squandering hours that could be put to better use, but still relishing every moment. Kander and Ebb’s musical “The Rink” takes this as its central theme and has a similar effect: you feel as though you should be doing something more important yet, within minutes, you are absorbed and let yourself be swept along by the Proustian reminiscences of the lead characters.

Anna is the owner of a dilapidated roller skating rink on the boardwalk of a decaying seaside resort, who has decided to sell it to developers. Her plans are complicated when her estranged daughter, Angel, returns home after a seven-year absence seeking to reconnect with the people and places she left behind and to patch things up with her mother. Through a series of flashbacks and revelations, the two of them deal with their pasts in their attempt to reconcile and move on with their lives. The action switches from past to present with alarming frequency but Adam Lenson’s polished direction never leaves us in any doubt as to where we are.

There is a nod to Sondheim’s “Follies”, though with less depth. Terrence McNally’s book is a somewhat slim affair and so the onus needs to ride on Kander and Ebb’s score and the performances. Caroline O’Connor’s Anna (pronounced ‘Honour’, deliberately or not, in this version with the slightly overdone accents) is a powerhouse of a performance, slipping seamlessly from her acerbic dialogue into stirring song. Gemma Sutton is the perfect foil as the prodigal, rebellious daughter and, as her character’s name suggests, has the voice of an angel.

They both possess the wit and comic timing required for the roles, which is matched by the strong support of the male ensemble. Stewart Clarke is in remarkably fine voice as the wayward, absent husband and father figure, and Ross Dawes as the ‘voice-of-conscience’ grandfather is quite compelling – not to mention his show stopping moves on roller skates. The close-knit cast make Fabian Aloise’s innovative choreography seem easy. Accompanied by a seven-piece band (though sounding like a much fuller orchestra) they skate, dance, laugh, cry and sing through the magnificent, yet seldom revived score. Like the abandoned rink of the title, it has been neglected for too long and this return to the stage is a welcome reminder of Kander and Ebb’s magic.


Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Darren Bell


The Rink

Southwark Playhouse until 23rd June


Also by Kander & Ebb
Chicago | ★★★★ | Phoenix Theatre | April 2018



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