Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

In general, the show looks and feels beautiful, also with a wonderful live band, but deserved to be presented in a better story.

By: Dec. 05, 2023
Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

Simone Kleinsma. A Dutch musical theatre icon, one of the greats. In honor of her wonderful and long career, Media Lane produced a musical, especially for her,  to celebrate her 65th birthday, in a direction by Joep Onderdelinden and script by Dick van den Heuvel.

Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

She plays Madeleine Coutard, a revue-star and comedienne of the good ol’ days. Madeleine hasn’t performed for years, and is living a closed-off existence in her huge house, on the canals of Amsterdam, together with her former-dresser and gay BFF Kimono (Paul Groot). Madeleine refuses to face the facts about her financial status, which is a constant worry of housekeeper Nancy (a refreshing role of Lottie Hellingman) and Kimono.

Nancy suggests to sublet her house to a few theatre students, and therefore become a landlady (aka Hospita). Paul Groot plays Kimono, the costume designer of Madeleine, who also lives in her house. Their lifelong friendship is refreshingly honest, sometimes bitchy but always filled with love.  The duo is the reason d’etre of the show. Or at least, they would be if they hadn't tried to to tell several stories and work through multiple themes. 

Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

On that note, the script has some major flaws and questionable choices. The clash between old and young. Between the babyboomer and Gen Z. We meet the students in the theater school. Not only is the stereotyping of Gen Z incredibly over the top, the apparant judgement towards Gen Z of the makers of this musical is tangible throughout. I don’t think that was their intent, yet it doesn’t come across well. It almost feels like a manifesto against the younger generation. As a musical comedy, there is not much to laugh about.

The theatre students are portrayed as incredibly spoiled, one-dimensional and dismissive of all authority and respect of the older generations, basically as Snowflakes.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term ‘Snowflake’, this is what Wikipedia says:

"Snowflake" is a derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.”

Without a doubt, this term exists in contemporary culture, so there must be some truth to it.

BUT, and that’s a big but, out of all the characters, do we really need all of them to be gender-fluid, annoying and spoiled? None of them are even the slightest bit impressed by the fact that they are going to live in the house of an icon, a superstar, a heroine in the field they are studying for - for goodness sake.  A bit blasé, to say the least. Dramatically, where is the uncertain underdog character? Where’s the fan of Madeleine? Where are the similarities, besides all the differences? So much potential has not been used.   

This best comes across in the cringey song Respect, in Act II.

We have the teacher on the hand, claiming: “You don’t respect your elders, you can’t say anyhting these days anymore” and on the other hand the students: “Don’t hurt us, we need a little respect”. Both sides are cringey.

They come to live with Madeleine, yet there are very few scenes about her sharing her craft, her ambition and theatre life. Most of the scenes are scenes of conflict and an ever-lasting misunderstanding of each other ways.  So there’s no telling of war stories back and forth to come together to a better understand and ‘respect’ back and forth. If there are, they are given such minor attention or relevance, the scenes are paper thin.

Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

Consequently, the first act is too long, and with lovely songs sung by Simone, it’s interrupted by very slow and unnecessary scenes, where factually, very little happens.

Without giving away spoilers, the biggest heartbreak of Madeleine’s life, the loss of her daughter, who has gone to live in Australia, is  a theme throughout the musical.
The final conclusion to that answer, is so unlikely, it’s frustrating.

Similarly, when finally Madeleine decides to perform again, as a final encore, it’s a medley with the whole cast. Total anti-climax. The whole dramatic build up of Madeleine’s character is swept of the page. No last performance of our star.

I want to address none of this is about the wonderful cast. However, the book is very thin, with dramatic choices which aren’t considered to their full potential. Such a pity, Simone is wonderful as Madeleine,  and the cast give it their full effort.

Review: DE HOSPITA | A NEW MUSICAL COMEDY ⭐️⭐️⭐ at DeLaMar Theater

To end on a slightly lighter note…

Choreographically, Chiara Re made a contemporary fairytale in various styles.

Highlight: Oui, je t’aime Paris (orignally, Mademoiselle de Paris by P. Durand and H. Contet),  where the young Madeleine ballroom dances with her lover, and goes back and forth to dancing with the older Madeleine. A beautiful abstract way of travelling through memory and the present.  

The décor also is well-made and stylish. A job well-done by Joris van Veldhoven, who has brought every time period in which the musical plays alive.

In general, the show looks and feels beautiful, also with a wonderful live band, but deserved to be presented in a better story. It truly is a pity, as Simone is a musical theatre gem who deserves to shine bright.

For more info: www.dehospita.nl

Photo credits: Set Vexy 

 




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