Thom Southerland directs this first revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s eerie musical – but is it a success?
What do you get if you combine a richly textured (revised) score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a strongly convincing cast and a Thom Southerland production? In the case of The Woman in White the audience is given a strong and emotionally powerful show that captures the audience’s attention and heart.
Based on the 1859 novel by Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White follows the story of Laura Fairlie and her half sister, Marian and their connection to the mysterious Woman in White who has a secret that she can only share with Laura to save her from tragedy.
With a story that combines drama and romance it is no wonder it captured the attention of Andrew Lloyd Webber whose newly revised score has a similar feel to The Phantom of the Opera being filled with operatic qualities as well as a strong emotional core as heard in numbers such as ‘I Believe My Heart’ and ‘If I Could Dream This World Away’.
Meanwhile, David Zippel’s lyrics combine well with the music, even with some lovely moments of humour as seen through the numbers ‘I Hope You Like it Here’ and ‘You Can Get Away With Anything’ which are sharply written and really capture the characters and their emotions well.
Thom Southerland’s production is sophisticated and haunting, capturing the intricate nature of the story perfectly while never feeling as though it is too heavy to keep up with. This lightness of touch means that the whole production is beautifully atmospheric, thanks to Rick Fisher’s lighting and the haunting nature of Andrew Johnson’s sound design as seen during Laura’s wedding to Sir Percival Clyde or when Laura and Marian go to meet Anne for example. Both sound and light work in harmony to highlight the key moments of the plot.
There is definitely nothing to complain about vocally from any of the cast. Both Carolyn Maitland (Marian) and Anna O’Byrne (Laura) showcase their vocals well, while revealing the rawness of their characters emotions that really hits the heart in this intimate production. Meanwhile, Ashley Stillburn as Walter is perfectly pitched vocally, while being passionate and endearing characteristically as his confrontation with Sir Percival Glyde proves. Chris Peluso as Glyde is charismatically villainous, showing both the charming and the vicious sides to the character’s personality to great effect. In truth, the entire cast work in perfect harmony both vocally and their portrayals of the characters.
The whole production has plenty of pace, to the point at times that relationships between characters can be slightly stilted in places and cause some slight confusion – particularly in the fast development of the relationship between Walter and Laura.
But overall, this is a harmonious and elegant production with a beautiful score that successfully brings the story to life. A real pleasure to watch.
The Woman in White will play at the Charing Cross Theatre f until the 10th February 2018. To book tickets click here or visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, See Tickets.com and Love Theatre.com.