A TALE OF TWO CITIES - The Musical
Director: Brenda Hindle
Musical Director: Ciara Preston Myakicheff
Choreographer: Denise King
Jill Santoriello’s musical version of Dickens’s novel debuted on Broadway in 2008. There have been other attempts to bring Dickens’ tale of self-sacrifice to the musical stage. After “Les Misérables”, other French revolutionary tales have found it difficult to find an audience. Although “Oliver!” and “Pickwick” are part of musical theatre heritage, Santoriello, who wrote the book, music and lyrics to deliver the core of Dickens’ concept of love, death and mistaken identity that is “A Tale of Two Cities” seems not to have gelled with audiences.
It must have been a daunting task to present this work without any of the staging requirements being available to hire. All the locations from the novel are visited, from French château to a London tavern. The narrative would have been impossible to follow had the locations not been recognisable. The use of projected imagery made this possible. The audio-visual presentation was in the creative hands of Rachel Lawrence. The lighting (Gordon Grayston) and sound (Alex Linney) designs are integral to the any presentation and have to complement the overall setting. To finish the 18th century picture, set dressings and trimmings, together with period costumes, gave the company credibility and in an effective performing space.
The director knew exactly what she wanted and marshalled the energy and enthusiasm of the cast. This brought the romantic triangle melodrama to its dramatic heights when those famous lines are spoken by Carton as he goes to “Madame Guillotine".
Santoriellos score was so well read by the MD and the orchestra captured the emotional core of this “poperetta”.
The ensemble work was exceptional, each member was an individual character, whether an aristocrat or a downtrodden citizen. The group’s junior members played an important role, too, and were keen members of the company.
Nearly all of the original supporting characters are included in this adaption to give a dramatic feast for the performers. They were all portrayed convincingly adding to the story’s development. Much needed light relief comes from the spy, John Barsad, and grave robber, Jerry Cruncher. Andy Bond and Russ Palmer respectfully, who were a formidable twosome in the “No Honest Way” number .
Madam Defarge was the one who knitted the names of intended victims of the revolution. Yvonne Patterson gave a passionate performance of Defarge’s thirst for revenge. Ernest Defarge, the loyal husband and leader of the people storming the Bastille, was memorably played by Allan Lewis. The cruel arrogant French aristocrat, the Marquis St Evremonde, was given all his unsavoury traits by Seamus Doran. From Evremonde, who has no scruples, to banker, Jarvis Lorry, who has the morals of a Methodist, Ken Hindle gave a warm and sincere performance as Lorry, the personal friend of the wrongly imprisoned, Dr Manette. Physician, Alexandra Manette, is the father of Lucie, Paul O’Neil, as the good doctor displayed, all the love between father and daughter.
Sydney Carton is the central Character a shrewd self-loathing drunkard lawyer secretly in love with Lucie Manette. Darnay Lucie’s husband is to be executed in France on a charge of spying, Carton for Lucie’s sake takes Darnay’s place. Rob O’Hara, as Carton conveyed the torment of love and redemption through Carton’s cynical drunkenness. Carton defends Darnay and a friendship between them is established. Adam Atkinson was a debonair, Darnay, making the relationship with Lucie believable. Michelle Larcombe as the heroine of the piece conveyed a character that Carton would love and lay down his life for.
Classics will always have a place in musicals. This production must have been a “Dream Come True” for Ulverston Amateurs.