The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Review

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg – a lively, romantic and entertaining musical based on the film by Jacques Demy is the perfect antidote for a cold dark winter evenings. Directed by Emma Rice, this latest production in Curve Theatre is an absolute delight. Intelligently using a variety of theatrical gimmicks to add depth and laughs to scenes. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg tells love stories and not all of them end ‘happily ever after’. 

The musical arrangements by Michel Legrand are enchanting. The inclusion of a harpist helps create ambience that draws the audience closer into this classic story of love and relationships. Fantastically, instruments are fully integrated with the stage set. The conductor witnesses the developing story as a pianist and simultaneously delivers charming tunes.

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The cast work well as a team showing versatility in dance, singing and gymnastic interaction with the cleverly designed set. As the plot is set around the harbour of Cherbourg, sailors are integral to the plot and enthusiastically facilitate following developments. They skilfully cross the boundary between performers and spectators, interacting more than anyone could expect – exchanging kisses and hugs with the audience. 

Lola played by Meow Meow (one of the top performers of 2010 by The New Yorker) provides the narrative glue to the tale engaging the audience with the confidence of an accomplished cabaret diva. But it is not only her acting and language skills, but the extraordinary husky voice that spreads magic during her performance. 

Overall this is truly splendid piece of musical theatre, the perfect blend of great music, superb storytelling and brilliant direction. Don’t miss this world premier at Curve, Leicester which runs until the 26 Feb 2011 before the show transfers to London.

Joanna Gulbinska

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