Review Roundup: DEAR WORLD with Betty Buckley and Paul Nicholas
Katy Treharne and Stuart Matthew Price star as 'Nina' and 'Julian', the two young lovers. Peter Land, Robert Meadmore and Jack Rebaldi star as the 'Presidents', Ayman Safia plays the 'Mute'. The cast also includes Anthony Barclay as the 'Prospector', Brett Brown as the 'Waiter', Michael Chance as the 'Sargeant', Annabel Leventon as 'Constance', Rebecca Lock as 'Gabrielle', Joanna Loxton, and Craig Nicholls.
Based on Jean Giraudoux's play The Madwoman of Chaillot, it centres around the Countess, living in the basement of a Parisian bistrot in 1945, driven mad by a lost lover and bemoaning her past. When oil is discovered under the streets of the city, she and her motley crew of acquaintances must band together to stop rapacious businessmen from destroying her home, and indeed all of Paris.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Lisa Martland of the Stage writes: Despite the efforts of David Thompson (who has adapted the book), legendary director/choreographer Gillian Lynne and a talented ensemble, Dear World remains a flawed piece. Its dependence on whimsy can be tiresome, resulting in a lack of engagement with characters that prove to be irritatingly one-dimensional.
Giles Cole from whatsonstage.com says: The remarkable Betty Buckley, as Countess Aurelia, presides over the stage with grace, aplomb and sheer Broadway presence, but it is only in the scenes with her fellow 'madwomen' that the show fuses into a true delight. Annabel Leventon and Rebecca Lock are glorious as sisters Constance and Gabrielle, and when these three ladies are onstage, one sits back happily and drinks in the wit, silliness and charm of the piece. Elsewhere, it is sadly the silliness which comes to the fore.
David Nice from theartsdesk.com states: Where it only took Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along 11 years to progress from flop to classic, Dear World has taken 44. Its time has finally come underneath the arches of Charing Cross in the intimate setting Herman always wanted, crowned this time by the supreme grace of Betty Buckley.
Dominic Maxwell from the Times says: It's taken 44 years for Jerry Herman's troubled musical to get a British production, so don't think that the producers of Dear World are going to undersell it. "Four legends combine to make musical theatre history," runs the tagline - the said legends being Herman (Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles), Gillian Lynne (director, choreographer), Betty Buckley (radiant Broadway star) and Paul Nicholas (British star in a cameo role). And that sets you up for something a lot better than this beautifully sung, well-decorated dramatically diabolical blend of fable, satire and romance.
Michael Billington from the Guardian writes: Betty Buckley, whom I last saw in Promises, Promises half a lifetime ago, lends the heroine the right air of dreamy dottiness, as if still inhabiting the Paris of the Belle Epoque. There is good support from Paul Nicholas as a benevolent sewerman, Peter Land as a leanly rapacious capitalist and Annabel Leventon as a park-bench habitue who hears more voices than Joan of Arc. It is not one of those Broadway failures like Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle that quickly acquires cult status, but Lynne stylishly evokes a fantasy Paris, and it's hard not to warm to a show that suggests corporate greed and environmental destruction can be actively resisted.
Our own Sarah Flinton of BWW says: Director Gillian Lynne's spectacular choreography adds even more humour and fun to an already energetic story; while the elegant interpretations of ballads by the cast, most notably Katy Treharne as the romantic lead Nina, ensures the portrayal of emotion.
Fourthwall Magazine writes: The score is stupendous from the get-go though. I'd never heard a note of it and could hum you great swathes and that's before I downloaded the original Broadway cast recording this morning; Angela Lansbury stars, bonus! Betty Buckley stars here (double bonus) as a warm and wonderful, cookie Countess Aurelia. There's a moment in Act 2 when the Julian of Stuart Matthew Price (top of his game, again) descends the stars holding a feather boa before role-playing Emile, the lost love of the Countess. I turned to the woman next to me and said, "Wow, what a scene!" I wonder who she was? We're all going mad. She did agree, though.