Tag Archives: Richard Emerson

Strike up the Band

Strike up the Band

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Strike up the Band

Strike up the Band

Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Reviewed – 8th March 2019



“Beth Burrows as Joan displays exceptional acting abilities as well as charming vocals”


I’ll be the first to admit I’m a massive fan of musicals, so was surprised to learn of one I wasn’t already familiar with. Strike Up The Band was written by George S. Kaufman in 1927, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, and is a satirical look at America’s lust for war. The story centres around Horace J. Fletcher (Richard Emerson), a bigshot cheese factory owner who, with the help of various political figures and businessmen, gets the USA to declare war on Switzerland, who have recently opposed tariffs imposed on its cheese.

The show’s comedy value is clear from the start with the song “Fletcher’s American Cheese Choral Society” proving an entertaining opening number. We are then introduced to an array of characters, including Mrs. Draper (Pippa Winslow), a society woman intent on pursuing Horace, and her daughter, Anne (Charlotte Christensen), also looking for love in the form of Timothy Harper (Adam Scott Pringle). Meanwhile, Jim Townsend (Paul Biggin) uses a degrading newspaper article to get the attention of Horace Fletcher’s daughter Joan (Beth Burrows), both of whom have clearly fallen for each other.

The entire cast have done a good job of developing their characters and all show great vocal and acting skills. Richard Emerson as Horace J. Fletcher is a convincing power-hungry businessman, with Charlotte Christensen embracing her role as a naive young girl with love on the brain. Her scenes/duets with Adam Scott Pringle are particularly entertaining. A special mention must also go to David Francis as George Spelvin, who delivers a masterclass in comedy acting as a mysterious spy-like character.

A fairly simple set (Camille Etchart) with nostalgic props suffices and is brought to life with Giulia Scrimieri’s spot-on period costume.

Songs are well delivered with the help of a six-piece band, although this did overpower the singing at times, particularly during ensemble numbers. That being said, there are some definite musical gems scattered throughout. Personal highlights include “Hangin’ Around With You”, “Homeward Bound” and “The Man I Love”, a song in which Beth Burrows as Joan displays exceptional acting abilities as well as charming vocals.

Although bonkers and, at times, a bit difficult to follow, this is a musical that certainly has relevance today and will introduce audiences to some of the Gershwin brothers’ lesser-known songs – there’s even a bit of tap dance thrown in, for good measure! Thanks to director Mark Giesser for bringing this well-performed satire to the London theatre scene.


Reviewed by Emily K Neal

Photography by Andreas Lambis


Upstairs at the Gatehouse thespyinthestalls

Strike up the Band

Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 31st March


Previously reviewed at this venue:
A Night at The Oscars | ★★★★ | February 2018
After the Ball | ★★★ | March 2018
Return to the Forbidden Planet | ★★★ | May 2018
Kafka’s Dick | ★★★★ | June 2018
Nice Work if You Can Get It | ★★★★ | December 2018
Bad Girls The Musical | ★★★ | February 2019


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With only one month to go before Broadway smash hit How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying arrives in London, the musical announces its fantastic full cast. Joining the already stellar line-up are Olivier-nominated Andrew C Wadsworth starring as big boss JB Biggley, Maisey Bawden as the uncompromising Miss Jones whilst Daniel Graham takes on the role of apathetic and arrogant Bud Frump. Richard Emerson will play the part of Mr Twimble and Matthew Whitby and Nuwan Hugh Perera are to star in multi-role parts. They will join already announced cast members Marc Pickering (Les Miserables, Calendar Girls, Sleepy Hollow), Hannah Grover, Lizzi Hills and Geri Allen.


The stunning Wilton’s Music Hall will provide the perfect backdrop for this rollicking romp of a musical, following the journey of J. Pierrepoint Finch in 1950s New York as he strives to reach the top and change the world. Armed with his copy of the book ‘How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying’, Finch joins the World Wide Wicket Company as a window cleaner, with his sights set on the dizzying heights of being Chairman of the Board. But nothing is ever easy, even when you know everything there is to know about the science of success…

Directed by Benji Sperring, the man behind recent London hits Toxic Avenger and Shock Treatment, and boasting an addictive score by Guys and Dolls composer Frank Loesser, this anarchic musical extravaganza brings together business and pleasure in the most uproarious of ways.

Holly Kendrick, Executive Director at Wilton’s says:

“I can’t wait to see such an iconic and loved Broadway show come to Wilton’s – this is the biggest London production since the show opened here in 1963 and we’re thrilled to be part of it. It’s wonderful to have such a talented cast of actors to bring it to life.”


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