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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Review of the London Musical Premier of 'Rebecca' at Charing Cross Theatre

I loved Daphne Du Maurier's 'Rebecca'. It's a cracking novel with ageless themes of self-doubt, what we'd now call imposter syndrome, seemingly impossible love, a haunted past, and obsession. In short, the perfect gothic novel.

I'm not the only one to love this story; Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 film starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, George Sanders and Gladys Cooper was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning two awards; Best Picture and Best Cinematography. It's been a BBC film starring Charles Dance, Emilia Fox and Diana Rigg, and more recently a Netflix film starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas and Keeley Hawes. So I was very excited when finally, the English language version of 'Rebecca' the musical has arrived in London, having started life in Austria in 2006.

Richard Carson as Maxim de Winter, Lauren Jones as I, and Kara Lane as Mrs Danvers head the cast.

Man and a woman sitting on a picnic blanket gazing into each others eyes
The projections and lighting helped give the impression of Monte Carlo. Photo credit Mark Senior

Whilst Richard was suitably enigmatic and handsome with a great voice, somehow his Maxim lacked depth and it was hard to understand why 'I' would have fallen for him in quite the way she does.

Lauren Jones possessed an incredibly pretty voice, and played up the naivety of the character, maybe finding her strength a little bit too late half way through the second act with the number, "Mrs de Winter is me!'

Servants lined up to greet the new Mrs de Winter
Mrs Danvers and staff greet the new Mr and Mrs de Winter. Photo credit Mark Senior

Kara Lane hits the perfect note as the housekeeper; stern, undermining, sabotaging the attempts of 'I' to find her feet at Manderley, and even urging 'I' to throw herself onto the rocks. She even seems to glide up and down the stairs. She gets to sing the most memorable of the songs in the show 'Rebecca' and a reprised version 'I Hear you Singing - Rebecca'. Mrs Danvers final ascent up the stairs into the burning house with unravelled hair is magnificent.

Woman in a turban and satin dress sits at a table with a younger woman
Shirley Jameson as Mrs van Hooper was one of the highlights. Photo credit Mark Senior

Shirley Jameson as Mrs van Hopper stole her too brief scenes, she made the character wonderfully monstrous. Other cast members performed energetically, often being required to use the aisles as well as the stage.

I loved the projections of the sea, and the swirling fog portraying both outer weather and inner moods. However, the staging didn't quite hit the right note I thought; we were told of Rebecca's wonderful taste and the opulence of the furnishings in Manderley but the props belied that. The costumes were of the right period, but again, didn't shout that they were the clothes of very rich people (and the hems on some of the outfits were frankly shocking). Rebecca, with an orchestra of 18, is directed by Alejandro Bonatto (director of the critically acclaimed production of Donizetti’s ‘Rita’ and Francis Poulanc and Jean Cocteau’s ‘The Human Voice’ at Charing Cross Theatre). I have to say though, that it was loud! I really really wanted to love this, but it didn't quite hit the mark for me. The singing is all great, the music immersive, and the story as gripping as ever, so if you've never seen it, it's worth a shot.

Creative team Original Book and Lyrics: Michael Kunze Music and Orchestrations: Sylvester Levay English Book Adaptation: Christopher Hampton English Lyrics: Christopher Hampton and Michael Kunze Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier Director Alejandro Bonatto Choreographer Ron Howell Musical Supervisor/Conductor Robert Scott Production Designer Nicky Shaw Lighting Designer David Seldes Sound Designer Andrew Johnson Projection Designer Matt Powell Costume Supervisor Jess Richardson-Smith Casting Stephen Crockett/Grindrod Burton Casting Produced by Steven M. Levy for Charing Cross Theatre Productions Limited

Where: Charing Cross Theatre

The Arches

Villiers Street

London WC2N 6NL

Box Office:

08444 930650

On until 18 November Tues - Sat 7.30pm Wed Matinee 2.30pm Sat & Sun Matinee 3pm Running Time: 2:15 Age Guidance: 12+

Tickets Premium £55.00 includes best stalls locations, a programme and a glass of bubbly Stalls A £47.50 Stalls B £25.00 Balcony £22.50 Slips £15.00 There is a £2.50 booking fee charged per ticket on phone and internet orders, and 50p restoration levy charged on all tickets. Box office at venue open to personal callers from 2 hours before the curtain time for every performance.



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