BWW Review: OUT OF THIS WORLD, Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, April 15 2016
Take a little of the 70s sitcom, Up Pompeii and stir in a touch of 80s cult movie "Clash of the Titans" and you have something that might just approximate to Out Of This World, the 50s Broadway musical revived in London for the first time at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre (until 30 April).
What a bizarre offering this is! We begin with Hugo Joss Catton (singing very well and looking like Quentin Tarantino) in the Frankie Howerd role as our narrator, Mercury, who explains that his father is bored with celestial pleasures and wants to take a human wife. Soon Jupiter (Cameron Bernard Jones camping it up to fine comic effect) is assuming the form of an unsuspecting young husband and climbing into bed with the sap's new wife. Meanwhile, Jupiter's own wife, Juno, is pursuing him to stop the philandering but, on the side, taking a little pleasure of her own with a Chicago gangster hiding out on a Greek island. Got all that? You'll need to, because there is more!
If the book (by Dwight Taylor and Reginald Lawrence) is even more risible than that of most musicals, the songs are, somewhat surprisingly, written by Cole Porter no less, and boy, does it show. Though only "From This Moment On" is a bona fide classic, all of the numbers bubble with invention, wit and hooks - an absolute delight to hear them, no matter how unlikely the circumstances.
It is with these songs that All Star Productions excels. Aaron Clingham pulls together a fine band who give full value to the melodies played live and close up and definitely worth the entrance fee alone. Amongst some very fine singing, Ruth Betteridge's soprano (as Helen) cuts through the tomfoolery like a knife, an absolute delight to hear. Megan Gilmartin's Chloe also sings charmingly and, if Rhiannon Moushall's wobbly accent and relative lack of belt lets her down from time to time, her sassy sexiness and comic timing more than make up for it. That said, she does nail the best song of the night, the bittersweet Nobody's Chasing Me, with an impeccably arched eyebrow and twinkle in her eye.
The show is, of course, completely bonkers, but it's not pretending to be Chekhov - so why not? If there's a better score anywhere on the Fringe now, I'd be surprised - and I'd be equally surprised if there's a better company of singers delivering it.
Photo David Ovenden