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The rolling stone is now at home in the West End, as Conor McPherson’s inimitable dramatic take on Bob Dylan transfers from the Old Vic, where it premiered last summer. Described as “a play with songs”, it’s the distinct harmony of two art forms, rather than straining one to incorporate the other in the usual jukebox musical fashion – and the resulting soulful tapestry allows form to articulately reflect its iconic inspiration.
Does Hamilton live up the hype – and will it appeal to British audiences? Yes, and yes again. It’s not like America has a monopoly on national identity crisis, leadership, immigration, parenthood, grief, sex scandals and political rivalries. But beyond that, it’s just a blisteringly great night out: universally thrilling entertainment.
And then we came to the end. All in all, it’s been a cracker of a series, and the final really was the, er, brandy cream on the pudding. We had a great run of dances from all four couples, and I found my allegiance switching regularly between them – the sign of an excitingly close-fought and satisfying finish.
The puppet who wants to be a real boy is all grown up in this new musical version – very much the darker side of Disney. Book writer Dennis Kelly went back to the original 19th-century Italian tale, by Collodi, and tonally, John Tiffany’s production leans more towards that incarnation: a Pinocchio recognisably in the tradition of grim Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
Click here to listen to the interview (I’m on at about 2hr 36min)
Two dances is theoretically a good test of range, growth and performance at this crucial stage, but can often make for a night of half-finished numbers – the pros’ steely ambition exceeding the knackered celebs’ execution. So it proved in some cases, but not all, and we actually wound up with a pretty clear view of our final five.
Offstage drama infamously hijacked the 1995 premiere of Simon Gray’s play, with star Stephen Fry walking out mid-run – hastening the production’s early closing. Here, then, is a chance to put the focus back on the work itself in Edward Hall’s revival.