Around The World In 80 Days
Around the World in 80 days at The Union Theatre.
The Union Theatre is an intimate setting for “Around the world in 80 days” which worked perfectly for this production. The 60 seat theatre was sold out for this production but the seating was well spaced and comfortable, if not a little worn in some places. The open stage gave us full view of the set before the overture and the design made good use of a variety of levels with a simple but effective set made of wooden beams and luggage, stacked at jaunty angles. The flickering storm lamps helped build the atmosphere as we waited for the overture to start.
In this musical we follow Phileas Fogg and his adorable madcap valet, Passepartout, as they race against time to circumnavigate the world in just 80 days. With his entire fortune at stake, Phileas risks life and limb to win his bet against his arch nemesis, Captain Fix, who will stop at nothing to thwart Fogg in his adventures.
‘Around the World in 80 Days’ promised to be a fun filled musical comedy that would entertain the entire family. Filled with catchy melodies, dastardly villains, high-kicking dance routines, performing elephants, nizam cannibals and dancing dragons, and boy did it deliver…
Right from the opening number, the ensemble were delightful with each member working hard to create their own character and the choreography and harmonies were sublime which brought this piece to life. The versatility of the dancers and different styles of dance was a joy to watch. Sometimes I even found myself watching the ensemble more than the leading characters.
There were some stand out performances from the well-cast leading players. Jasmin Minjoot and Sam Peggs brought some tender vocals to the roles of Princess Aouda and Phileas Fogg but Phileas was overshadowed by Connor Hughes as the madcap valet Jean Passepartout. Connor had excellent comic timing with a very expressive face and his was the story you wanted to follow. Robert Oliver as Captain Fix was the villain of the piece but is a larger than life character that you can’t help but love, and Ceris Hine was just a scream as the well-to-do Miss Fotherington. Aoibhin O’Neil as Katy O’Flatherty gave a rousing performance and “Around the world with Katy’s girls” was one of my favourite numbers showcasing the talents of the ensemble too.
The first half was packed full of lively numbers and memorable songs so the second half left me a little disappointed as it seemed quite slow by comparison. The accompaniment was provided by just one man, well in such an intimate setting you could hardly have an orchestra! However, some of the music was over synthesized to my liking which detracted from the piece. However, by the finale and the rousing number Passepartout, my spirits had been lifted again.
In such a small theatre, I was expecting basic lighting, but I must say the lighting design was exceptional in lighting small areas of specific parts of the stage. It was very effective and what helped the transition from different scenes possible with minimal changes of set.
Overall, “Around the World in 80 days” gave a good evening’s entertainment. The standard of performance was excellent, and the cast and crew should be very proud of their production.
Review by guest blogger Katrina Summerfield.
Around The World in 80 Days is running until 1st September at The Union Theatre. Tickets are £22.50. To find out more about Around The World in 80 Days visit the Union’s website.