Things were certainly hotting up at the Cadogan Hall thanks to this lively if occasionally stilted performance of Zorro the Musical.

Passion, duty, power, love and family are all at the very heart of this musically vibrant show – a story of good vs evil that perhaps doesn’t fully come to life through Stephen Clark’s book as some of the dialogue here feels very forced.

The story as such begins with Diego being made heir to the lands owned by Don Alejandro in California – much to the disgust and jealousy of his brother Ramon. Flash forward a few years and Ramon has taken over the lands promised to Diego following the death of their father – turning into a place of poverty and strife. In contrast Diego has been living in Spain with gypsies but returns home hearing of his father’s death – and is soon forced into a new identity to save the people with the help of childhood friend Luisa and the fiesty Inez.

Having last been seen in London in 2008, there is absolutely no question about the quality of the music provided by The Gipsy Kings which is warm and consistently vibrant. Numbers such as ‘Flamenco Opening’ and ‘Bamboleo’ wonderfully evoke the latin vibe – particularly when performed by the London Musical Theatre Orchestra that really raised the roof. In contrast the heartfelt ‘Falling’ and ‘Man Behind the Mask’ add a much needed emotional core to the story.

The main issue with this performance really was the dialogue and book. I never really felt as though I was transported into the story – particularly when some of the dialogue between characters felt unconvincing despite the overall excellent performances from the cast. This being said there was plenty of amusing moments to be found that were entertaining – not least the scene in which Ramon goes to confession with Zorro pretending to be a priest. There is a good sense of humour and playfulness to be found throughout but the story could have been brought through in a stronger way.

Yet this concert performance boasted of some strong performances. Not least Lesli Margherita as the spirited and at times blunt Inez who certainly get some of the best quality lines of the show particularly in the way she handles Garcia. She shows the character’s strength and passion to great effect. Elsewhere, Ricardo Afonso is equally impressive as Diego, a real commanding presence with wonderful vocals as heard on ‘A Love We’ll Never Live’, while Emma Williams is an excellent match as Luisa offering a strong and engaging performance.

While there was much to recommend this concert performance, it feels as though Zorro the musical is a show that needs a full production to capture the drama (of which there is much) and spirit of the story properly. But it was still very warmly received by the audience thanks to the engaging performances from the LMTO and cast.

By Emma Clarendon

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐