Reviews are coming in for the West End premiere of musical Rebecca at the Charing Cross Theatre in London.
Based on Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, the show stars Richard Carson (Les Miserables, Mamma Mia!) as Maxim de Winter, Lauren Jones (Bonnie & Clyde) as the second Mrs de Winter, and Kara Lane (The Addams Family – the Musical Comedy, Mary Poppins) as Mrs Danvers.
Other cast include Alex James-Ward, Piers Bate, Sarah Harlington, David Breeds, Amanda Minihan, Neil Moors, Nicholas Lumley, Nigel-Joseph Francis, Elliot Swann, Scott McClure, Emily Apps, Melanie Bright, Gail MacKinnon, Tarisha Rommick, James Mateo-Salt, and Rosie Glossop.
The show features 22 original songs, written by German composers Michael Kunze (original book and lyrics, and English lyrics) and Sylvester Levay (music and orchestrations), with an English translation and English lyrics by Christopher Hampton (Sunset Boulevard, Les Liaisons dangereus).
Directed by Alejandro Bonatto, Rebecca runs until 18 November 2024 at Charing Cross Theatre London.
Read reviews from the Guardian, Times, Stage, with further reviews to be added,
"Mrs Danvers steals the show in Du Maurier musical"
"Among polished performances, Kara Lane’s creepily obsessed housekeeper proves a powerful force"
"... visually, this musical makes its mark. Shadow play and watery surges around De Winter’s Cornish estate, Manderley, are captured beautifully through Matt Powell’s projections."
"The songs add to the atmosphere and the duets between the central couple, such as Help Me Face the Night, are sweet although there is really only one ballad that sticks"
"Under the direction of Alejandro Bonatto, the performances are polished – a feat given the recent spate of cancellations due to sickness in the company."
"The standout is Lane who makes Danvers a powerful force, creepily obsessed with her former mistress."
"Daphne du Maurier collides with Phantom of the Opera"
"This musical take on the great thriller tries hard but neither fully honours the original nor finds a true theatrical language of its own"
"Alejandro Bonatto’s production... makes a reasonable stab at translating this shapeshifting story... Yet where the novel balances psychological menace with a Gothic plot that includes a drowned wife, a mad housekeeper, a blackmail attempt and several epic storms, Bonatto, along with his lyricist Michael Kunze and composer Sylvester Levay, mistakes action for suspense."
"His book, perfunctorily translated along with the lyrics by the ubiquitous Christopher Hampton, similarly flattens Richard Carson’s inscrutable de Winters, even capitulating to the substitute ending used in Hitchcock’s 1940 film."
"... Kara Lane is the burning centre of this production, and also gets its best song, Rebecca, a love letter and lament in one, and whose searing Lloyd Webber-style crescendo freely repeats throughout the score."
"Poorly staged adaptation of the Daphne du Maurier classic replaces subtlety and suspense with bombast and romantic melodrama"
"Kunze’s book truncates the source work fairly successfully, but although Levay’s literal, sometimes overblown score has some fine moments, it lacks nuance in its efforts to deliver the episodes of high drama."
"Thankfully, there are some decent performances along the way, not least Lauren Jones as the second Mrs de Winter"
"The score isn’t really the problem here; nor are Kunze and Hampton’s lyrics, though they are pedestrian at best. Bonatto directs with a peculiar lack of imagination, struggling to find the right tone. Proceedings are irrevocably hindered by Nicky Shaw’s unwieldy set design"
"No one needs a singing and dancing Mrs Danvers"
"Unlike the movie, despite a sinister musical opening we quickly soar into a more schmaltzy dimension in which “We can’t go back to yesterday/ But love will never die”. It’s dispiritingly anodyne, even though it’s also clear that Lauren Jones, who plays the central romantic interest, has a fantastic voice and a stage presence that eclipses the naivety of the character she’s playing."
"... clear chemistry between two strong leads can’t stop this feeling like du Maurier by numbers. Though much love has clearly gone into the project, to retell this story in the 21st century surely needs to address certain elements; not least the fact that Maxim never has to account for himself and clearly prefers his women subservient."
"Still, the director Alejandro Bonatto keeps the pace moving"
"Musical’s English-Language Debut Is a Remarkable Debacle"
"Daphne du Maurier’s beloved, near-Gothic romance centers on a mystery – but the chief mystery here is what anyone thought they were doing entrusting a large-scale property (once famously destined for Broadway) to a 265-seat off-West End house with a creative team and production budget so woefully underfunded."
"... director Alejandro Bonatto’s production, which is eye-widening in all the wrong ways. In so small a theater with almost no wing space, activating the audience’s imagination with more abstract visuals could have yielded results. But production designer Nicky Shaw opts instead for a thuddingly literal approach."
"Beyond the yards of sung dialogue with moody underscoring, Levay’s actual songs are mainly in the key of Lloyd Webber-esque romance, complete with multiple repetitions."
"The one person who emerges with dignity utterly intact is Jones as the central character. "