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Review Roundup: Tori Amos' THE LIGHT PRINCESS


Songwriter Tori Amos and playwright Samuel Adamson teamed up with director Marianne Elliot to bring a new musical to the stage. After five years, The Light Princess has come to The National Theatre. The musical opened last night, Oct 9, starring Rosalie Craig as Princess Athea. The Light Princess also stars Amy Booth-Steel as Piper, Nick Hendrix as Prince Digby, David Langham as Flowers, Hal Fowler as King Ignacio, Ben Thompson as Zephyrus, and Kane Oliver Parry as Llewelyn. The Light Princess was designed by Rae Smith, who also desgined War Horse.

The Light Princess is based on the fairytale by George MacDonald. When Athea's mother dies, she cannot cry and becomes so light with grief that she begins to float. In order to keep her from floating away, Athea has to be locked away. In another kingdom, Digby also looses his mother and becomes so grieved that he is trained as a warrior and declares war on Athea's kingdom. Athea escapes and crosses paths with Digby in the forest, where two begin their affiar. However, before they can be together and find true love, Athea must conquer her own fears and grief so that she can return to the ground.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Mark Shenton, London Theatre: There are times when it feels Wicked-like (or rather Wicked-lite), as if it has been rewritten as a new Into the Woods fairy story. While Elphaba in Wicked famously sings of defying gravity, Althea desperately wants to experience its effects. Though Tori Amos's mostly sung-through score has some haunting refrains that have been stunningly orchestrated throughout, there's a heavy injection of Stephen Schwartz and Claude-Michel Schonberg-lIke Ballads.

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out: The National Theatre's much-hyped new musical is a visual and technical tour de force with a title performance from Rosalie Craig that'll blow your mind and melt your heart. I was a fan - in other words - in spite of the fact that 'The Light Princess' doesn't really do the business in the tunes department, where big things had been expected from songwriter and creator Tori Amos.

Simon Edge, Daily Express: What makes it so visually original is that Althea, in a staggeringly good performance by Rosalie Craig, floats above the stage for a good three-quarters of the show. You might assume she's on a trapeze, and she is indeed wired up for some of it. But for the most part she is manipulated as a human puppet by other members of the cast, in a show of amazing physical strength on her part as well as theirs. At one point she has to sing upside down - "Yes, I'm very versatile!" - and it never looks anything less than graceful.

Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph: There's lots of earnest stuff about the wickedness of war, the evils of patriarchy and the need to protect the water supply. You feel you are being preached at. The songs...feature a lot of wailing vocals and only very occasionally run to a decent tune or a witty lyric. The orchestrations for woodwind, strings and piano seem fussy and I can't say that any of the numbers lodged in my memory on first hearing. Rae Smith's designs create a gaudy fairy-tale world with more than a touch of Walt Disney about it.

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