A new revival of Stephen Sondheim’sReviews are in for Anyone Can Whistle at the Southwark Playhouse in London.
Running until 7 May 2022, this new revival of A new revival of Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim’s political satire is directed by Georgie Rankcom and stars Alex Young as Cora Hoover Hooper.
Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim’s political satire musical was a disaster when it first opened (it only made it through 12 previews and 9 performances when it opened on Broadway in 1964) , and has rarely been performed since.
It also got widely varied reviews, something which seems like history repeating itself with this new production at the Southwark Playhouse.
The cast includes Chrystine Symone as Nurse Fay Apple, Jordan Broatch as J Bowden Hapgood, Danny Lane as Comptroller Schub, Samuel Clifford as Treasurer Cooley, Renan Teodoro as Chief of Police Magrueder, Nathan Taylor as Dr Detmold, Kathryn Akin as Mrs Schroeder, Marisha Morgan as Baby Joan, Teddy Hinde as John, Hana Ichijo as June, Shane Convery as George and Jensen Tudtud as Martin.
Check out reviews from all of the major UK press, including the Evening Standard, Guardian and Times.
Anyone Can Whistle reviews
"Sondheim flop gets a blazing revival"
"This elusive curiosity – whose original production in 1964 closed on Broadway after nine performances – finds brilliant new contexts for its absurdist story"
"Jordan Broatch, in their professional debut, is a blazingly engaging Hapgood, and Chrystine Symone gives soaring performances of the title number and Trumpets, making us glad Sondheim saw sense over that song’s excision, while Alex Young’s Mayor, adept at physical and vocal comedy, nails truths about political liars."
"Oafish production justifies the neglect of this Sondheim musical"
"Unless you’re a bereaved Sondheim completist, give this dud a full body-swerve"
"The show is staged traverse-style on a low catwalk between two banks of seats, and Natalie Pound’s five-strong band frequently drowns out the cast. A shame because Chrystine Symone, as Fay, has a fine voice, and Alex Young as Cora clearly has good pipes too as well as comic flair. But they are given insufficient direction, flailing for attention in a sea of crassness, along with newcomer Jordan Broatch’s willowy, simpering Hapgood."
"A peppy revival of Sondheim’s cult early flop"
"Sondheim and Laurents’s lively relic is a celebration of difference, a philosophical stance teased out through the love interest between the uptight but dedicated Nurse Apple (Chrystine Symone, making a good fist of a slightly difficult part) and a blithely faux psychiatric doctor named Hapgood (Jordan Broatch, charismatic in a professional debut). Unfortunately, their tentative yet liberating love is played out with the nurse in the guise of her alter ego as a French coquette, a character device that seems pretty unpersuasively silly. The show’s underlying attitudes are perhaps better embodied in Rankcom’s otherwise likeably sure-footed production by an admirably peppy and diverse ensemble."
"A revival that celebrates diversity"
"Sondheim described his show as a “cartoon”, which seems a fitting description for Rankcom’s fantastically silly retelling. Sitting on either side of a pastel pink catwalk, we watch from two banks of seats as the “cookies” strut along in a perfectly pitched chorus. But, we are more than mere observers here – we’re part of Rankcom’s civilisation too. Audience members are selected randomly to read from pieces of paper. One joins a conga line in celebration, while another is used in place of a chair for the mayoress to perch on. Though a bit bumpy at times, this is a refreshing restaging."