What’s it all about?
Love, family, loyalty and love again. This is the timelessly romantic tale of the lives of three generations born on the Cotton Blossom as it sails the Mississippi River. An epic history of racial tension, prohibition and American progress plays out as the early 20th century rolls on.
Daniel Evan’s ambitious restaging of Hammerstein and Kern’s beast of a musical transfers to the West End in all its glorious, heart soaring, touching and magnificently performed glory.
Who’s in it?
The Cotton Blossom is in safe hands with a sensational Malcolm Sinclair behind the wheel, radiating warmth as Captain Andy Hawks, and a fierce, wonderfully dry Lucy Briers as his matriarch wife.
Gina Beck is outstanding as their daughter, who, as the years roll on, makes the transformation from a youthful, exuberant bubbling young romantic to a steely put upon wife look utterly seamless. The London stage has been a poorer place without her incredible vocals, but the wait proved worth it to hear her sing alongside a striking Chris Peluso’s in Hammerstein and Kern’s passionate and joyful duets and an equally gorgeous-voiced Rebecca Trehearn in soulful ensemble numbers.
With an ensemble of this strength and size, every audience member will likely come away with a favourite of their own. For me it was Emmanuel Kojo as dock worker Joe. His stirring rendition of Ol’ Man River is complete musical perfection. Trust me, it’s not something you’ll be likely to forget for a very long time.
What should I look out for?
A fresh new tip for finding love. Sick of Tinder? Feeling dejected by Happn? Take a cue from Gaylord Ravenal and take a stroll down Regent’s Canal singing woefully about how you’re sort of okay on your own but would quite like a girl/boyfriend. If his attempts on the Mississippi are anything to go by, you’ll be married by sunrise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, oh to live in a musical…
In a nutshell?
Step aboard the Cotton Blossom for Daniel Evans’ glorious, joyful and flawlessly performed production that breathes new life into this exhilarating classic.
#ShowBoat has transferred superbly from Sheffield. Lustrous work from all concerned and Gina Beck remains a phenomenal Magnolia.
— Paul Foster (@MrPaulFoster) April 26, 2016
— Jan Baister (@JanBaister) April 25, 2016
Will I like it?
You know that comforting feeling of settling down to lose yourself in a classic Sunday afternoon film? This is the theatrical equivalent: pure class, total escapism and a goosebump-inducing, heart soaring score.
Admittedly the story is a tad unrealistic in parts, but leave your cynicism at the door and you’re rewarded with a gorgeously rich, touching evening that soars. Trust us, this is one boat you have to catch.