Reviews round-up: Show Boat at the New London Theatre

A reviews round-up for Daniel Evans’ Show Boat.

Daniel Evans’ acclaimed Sheffield Crucible production of Show Boat has sailed into the West End’s New London Theatre.

One of the most romantic musicals of all time and set against the backdrop of America’s Deep South at the turn of the 20th Century, Show Boat follows the lives and loves of three generations aboard the Cotton Blossom show boat as it plies the Mississippi River. The show features the timeless songs Ol’ Man River, Make Believe and Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.

Here’s a round-up of reviews from The Guardian, Observer, Time Out, Daily Telegraph, The Evening Standard and The Stage.

Show Boat runs until 27 August 2016 at the New London Theatre


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Average rating score for this production


“Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s 1927 work set the template for the musical as we know it, and 90 years on Show Boat is still a knockout” “Every number is a delight and the spirited ensemble brings each one to rousing life. The plangent refrains of Ol’ Man River and more upbeat philosophy of Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man thread their silky way through the show and Dan Delange’s orchestrations ply us with constant tempting samples of every number. Don’t miss this Boat” Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard

“There are many factors that make Show Boat a great night in the theatre. Not the least of them, however, is Evans’s realisation that this is a musical that joyously looks to the future without wholly eradicating the past.” Michael Billington, The Guardian

“It’s a cliché to say it, but they really don’t make ’em like this anymore: this marvellous production of one of the all-time great musicals – already festooned in praise from a run at the resurgent Sheffield Crucible – feels like a strangely brave choice to put in the West End of 2016.” “It’s an engaging story, eventually, but really the charm of ‘Show Boat’ is more textural than narrative: the magic comes from the swelling, elegant score given the full orchestral treatment, the cast’s precise, powerful voices, the sense of time’s arrow hurtling by, and the remarkable song that embodies this – ‘Ol’ Man River’, the musical’s mournful motif, given a titanic airing by Emmanuel Kojo’s Joe.” “Show Boat is booking until January, and I’d be delighted if it makes it. But this stirring, expensive revival of the first great American musical – as profound as it is sumptuous – feels so gloriously out of step with the rest of the West End that I wouldn’t bet on it going the distance. See it while you can, and if I’m wrong, see it again.” Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

“With its rapturous score, full of operatic melodies of romantic yearning, gorgeous folk ballads and exhilarating ensemble numbers, there's no musical quite like” “This exhilarating update of a true classic is now one of the West End's most gorgeous shows” “The joy and surprise of Daniel Evans' mighty new production is how compressed and fleet of foot it is. Using a new version developed for Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House, it manages the seemingly impossible: it maintains the epic sweep of the show, while also bringing its tender, poignant love stories into heartbreaking focus.” “stunning vocal performances led by Emmanuel Kojo giving resonant voice to Ol' Man River as the stevadore Joe, Sandra Marvin's haunting delivery of Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun', and thrilling Rebecca Trehearn who gives a heart-breaking rendering of Bill. Meanwhile, Gina Beck's luscious soprano is perfectly matched by the liquid warmth of Chris Peluso's voice as Magnolia and Gaylord, asking of each other, Why Do I Love You?” Mark Shenton, The Stage

“If War Horse couldn’t run and run at the New London with the centenary commemorations of the First World War to help it stay the course, then what hope is there for Show Boat, newly docked in its place after a short triumphant stint in Sheffield last December?” “song after song has a depth of feeling that surprises, delights and moves: whether it’s Only Make Believe, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man or Bill – a song of devotion to an ordinary Joe which I can’t imagine being given a more heart-rending interpretation than Trehearn delivers here. You may be cynical about the call, but honestly: all aboard! You won't regret it.” Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

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