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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre

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Boybooshka
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joined:10/25/06
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#1
Posted: 4/4/10 at 6:43pm
Saw this yesterday,during a whistle stop day trip to the big smoke. I wasn't familiar with the show before, excellent production and great cast, but the obvious issues with the book make it clear why this wasn't a hit originally.

Anybody else seen it, what did you think?

Loved the venue too.
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Phantom of London
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joined:3/26/08
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#2
Posted: 4/4/10 at 6:50pm
The venue is very small.
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bob8rich
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joined:10/19/03
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#2
Posted: 4/4/10 at 7:41pm
I love Anyone Can Whistle - it has some of Sondheim's best songs IMO and a very underrated Arthur Laurents book that has great depth of subtext. But I thought the Jermyn Street production was pretty unsatisfying overall - and nowhere near as good as the production at the Bridewell a few years ago.

I liked the intimate feel of the production, there were some really beautiful moments (especially during "With So Little To Be Sure Of") and the show perfectly lends itself to an actor-muso presentation. Up to a point the Brechtian style worked but for me it was a little irritating. And the decision to set the show in 1930 rather than the mid-60s when it was written and originally set was pretty ludicrous - especially as there are references in the text to things that are highly anachronistic. For example - there is mention of the United Nations (which was not formed until 1945) and a comment in the song "Simple" to most people having "two TVs" (in the 60s yes, in 1930 impossible). Either it should have been kept in the original era or the text should have been revised to accomodate the change to 1930.

Also, the decision to "un-Americanize" the setting and the accents was another ludicrous choice IMO. Again there are very American references in the text (such as the mention of the NAACP in the lyric of the song "Simple", etc.) so it makes no sense to set it anywhere else.

Performance-wise almost all the cast were excellent and David Ricardo Pearce was superb. But I thought Issy van Randwyck was pretty horrendous - her Cora came across as a kind of pantomime wicked stepmother and was more caricature than character. And her big number - "A Parade In Town" - should be a showstopper (as anyone who's heard Angela Lansbury's definitive version on the OBC recording will know) but it fell totally flat due to Ms van Randwyck's ineffective delivery.

As for the venue - I love the Jermyn Street space. But then I love intimate fringe theatre more than West End shows in general.They tend to let the piece speak for itself rather than relying on gimmicks or special effects. So on one hand I applaud this production of ACW for daring to put a different spin on the show. But unfortunately it just did not work.

I just wish I could get over to New York again later this month to see the City Center Encores production of Anyone Can Whistle if just for the fantastic cast of leads it has: Sutton Foster, Raul Esparza and the seriously awesome Donna Murphy as Cora.

THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
Updated On: 4/4/10 at 07:41 PM
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Scripps2
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#3
Posted: 4/5/10 at 4:59am
It was the complete opposite of the Bridewell production. My abiding memories of that are of Janie Dee and Edward Baker Duly, their songs and their relationship, and I can remember very little about the mayoress and her antics.

At Jermyn, it was all about the mayoress and the Nurse Apple/Hapgood plotline came off second, despite strong performances. I did like the Brechtian treatment and thought it added more than it took away to the mayoress/townsfolk plotline. I liked Issy Van Randwyck precisely because she was supposed to be a caricature, just as her sidekicks were.

A difficult show to balance!
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Kad
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joined:11/5/05
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#4
Posted: 4/5/10 at 10:14am
I saw this on my recent trip to London and adored it. I felt that its clearly Brechtian presentation justified anachronisms and caricature and added a great deal to a very tricky show.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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Scripps2
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#5
Posted: 4/5/10 at 1:31pm
Did you see anything else Kad?
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Kad
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#6
Posted: 4/5/10 at 4:42pm
I saw quite a bit else. That was the only musical, however. I also saw Jerusalem, Waiting for Godot, Beyond the Horizon (at the National), War Horse, and Money (Shunt Theatre co.).
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
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bob8rich
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#7
Posted: 4/5/10 at 6:45pm
I don't think you can ever justify anachronisms. But then again I am an historian so that kind of error is pretty much anathema to me, so I guess I'm biased. lol
THEATRE 2019: ASPECTS OF LOVE**** FRANKENSTEIN (Paris)**** AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE**** COMPANY***** [title of show]**** CAN CAN*** THE CEREAL CAFE**** BAD GIRLS**** RAGS***** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** FOLLIES***** ROMANCE ROMANCE**** THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES*** LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE***** QUEEN OF THE MIST**** SIX** THE PRICE***** MAGGIE MAY **** CALENDAR GIRLS** MAN OF LA MANCHA**** WAITRESS***** FANNY AND STELLA***
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Scripps2
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#8
Posted: 4/6/10 at 2:31pm
What did you make of Jerusalem, Kad?

Do you think it will find an audience if it transfers?
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Kad
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Anyone Can Whistle - Jermyn St Theatre#9
Posted: 4/6/10 at 6:53pm
I loved Jerusalem. Mark Rylance is giving one of the best male performances I have ever seen. But my gut feeling is that a transfer just isn't wise, unless it's through a nonprofit like Lincoln Center and has a limited run.
"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."