The latest musical to be directed by Thom Southerland at the Charing Cross Theatre is a eerie and gothic production that brings to mind The Phantom of the Opera.
Maury Yeston’s gorgeous score takes centre stage in Thom Southerland’s atmospheric and tender production, perfectly captured by the gorgeous vocals provided by Chris Peluso and Zoe Doano.
Set in an Italian based villa, Death Takes a Holiday is a love story between Death (taking a break from causing grief and pain) and heiress Grazia, as told through some delicate music and lyrics that have a definite resemblance to The Phantom of the Opera in its gothic but sweepingly romantic way.
Musical numbers such as ‘Alone Here With You’ and ‘More and More’ are perfectly romantic and complement Peluso and Doano’s voices perfectly, while ‘Death in the House’ and ‘Life’s a Joy’ are slightly more lively, adding a change of pace and mood.
At first it is difficult to get into the story and get it to focus on its two central characters, considering the fact that Death is only having a two day holiday – but as the main questions the musical poses are is love at first sight possible? is love stronger than death itself? then perhaps the audience can overlook it slightly.
It could also be said that some may find that the story is slight and could perhaps be developed further, lacking slightly in character development to make as strong of an impact as it could have.
But the setting and the atmosphere that Southerland with the help of Morgan Large (set design) and Matt Daw’s lighting gives the production a suitably gothic and even operatic feel about it that really helps to engage the audience and get them into the right frame of mind.
There are strong performances to be enjoyed throughout. Chris Peluso’s performance as Death is charming and graceful, yet at the same time there is always an undertone of menace, particularly when he is threatening the Duke Vittorio that reminds the audience this isn’t a typical love story. Meanwhile, Zoe Doano as Grazia is suitably headstrong and passionate, with wonderfully strong vocals throughout. There is also joy to be found in James Gant’s performance as Fidele that lightens up the atmosphere and adds a touch of humour with class and style – particularly during the song ‘Death is in the House’, despite it being dramatic and almost sinister.
On balance then, there is no denying that the plot is flimsy and unbelievable, but Southerland’s production simply allows the gorgeous score to take centre stage and is still a treat for the eyes and the ears.
Death Takes A Holiday will run at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 4th March. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk,Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.