We take a look at what is being said about the English language premiere of Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay’s musical based on Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel .

(c)Mark Senior

The Stage: ** “A chequered production of the haunting Daphne du Maurier, improved by admirable performances but hindered by ill-conceived decor.”

The Arts Desk: *** “There’s a bigger show itching to burst out from this one, so, when you do discover its backstory as that much bigger show, it’s no surprise. But perhaps one revelation, the true nature of Rebecca, is enough for one night.”

The Guardian: *** “visually, this musical makes its mark. Shadow play and watery surges around De Winter’s Cornish estate, Manderley, are captured beautifully through Matt Powell’s projections. Together with Nicky Shaw’s quickly re-forming set design, bedrooms morph into moonlit trees or cauldron-like ocean waves.”

Theatre & Tonic: *** “Rebecca has arrived in London with a lot to live up to. Lovers of the novel and long-term fans of the musical will all have great expectations. This production doesn’t quite meet them – there’s a bit of a disconnect with the outstanding score and the rather mundane staging. But there is still plenty to enjoy, not least in the principal performances, which produce a few breathtaking moments.”

West End Best Friend: *** “The shipwreck scene in which the boat of the late Mrs de Winter stands out as astonishingly dynamic and boasts some ripping choreography and a score that does more musical storytelling than the rest of the production together.”

Musical Theatre Review: **** “What does impress is the menacing, dark and Halloween spooky look and feel of the constantly changing sets and the collective creative achievement of designers Nicky Shaw (production), David Seldes (lighting) and Matt Powell (projection) is worthy of much praise.”

(c)Mark Senior

British Theatre.com: **** “But in every other way the novel is deftly followed, all the most famous lines and incidents elegantly polished,  down to Colonel Julian the magistrate and poor mad Ben. Lauren Jones is small and sweetly dowdy as the second Mrs de Winter,  sweet-voiced especially in the quieter, better numbers”

Lou Reviews: ** “Characterised by sung dialogue at times, Rebecca is a complicated but interesting show that tries to reach out through the orchestrations and translated lyrics (by Kunze and Christopher Hampton).”

Broadway World: ** “Plenty of delightfully sinister elements suddenly tip into melodrama and the excellence of the score is never matched by the direction. Grandiose music soars alongside great performances, but there’s a distinctive lack of build-up and character exploration in the text. The rendition of the lyrics is rather simple and repetitive in its wording, while the book remains nothing special throughout.”

The Telegraph: *** “This musical take on the great thriller tries hard but neither fully honours the original nor finds a true theatrical language of its own”

London Theatre Reviews: *** “Fans of the novel will surely enjoy this musical adaptation of Rebecca. Lauren Jones is a star, while Kara Lane and Richard Carson keep the piece moving when the book lags behind. But hopefully this is just the beginning of Rebecca’s life in London.”

(c)Mark Senior

Theatre Weekly: “This English language debut of Rebecca is an admirably ambitious production that needs a bigger space to really ignite the story’s passion. The cast are truly wonderful, but it feels like they’re being held back by the production’s inability to live up to the scale it’s trying to achieve.”

London Theatre1: *** “The score is beautiful. The actors are beautiful. The set is beautiful. As they say at Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, “even the orchestra is beautiful”. But the beauty seems to mask the eeriness and unease that a tale about the ghosts of the past haunting the lives of those still present a little too well.”

City Am: ** “Rebecca is one of the most lauded Gothic novels, a pristine, and pristinely creepy, examination of our attitudes to love and relationships, and a questioning of what we would do to protect ourselves and those that need protecting. It’s a shame that Du Maurier’s ideas get very little space to breathe in this overstuffed production.”

Pocket Size Theatre: *** “From the first chilling note to the final fiery scene, Rebecca is an all-out melodrama, complete with sinister plots, a soaring score, and characters that wouldn’t look out of place in a panto – but that’s all part of its charm. It’s an over-the-top, entirely gorgeous piece of outlandish theatre, and I absolutely loved it.”

The Reviews Hub: ** 1/2 “Even with that, the psychological aspects of du Maurier’s work are replaced by melodrama that rarely manages to engage to the degree that the book, or Hitchcock’s film, managed so brilliantly. While the German language original has been lauded, one fears that its London version may be better one day lost to the waves.”

The Spy in the Stalls: **** “An ensemble that is equally as important as the leading players, and given several rousing numbers that set the scene and drive the plot. It is more melodrama than psychological insight, but then again – is that a bad thing? We’re not looking for Daphne du Maurier’s literary subtleties. We want the essence, which is what is achieved. The melodies are quite beautiful when needed; and stirring whenever required.”

Rebecca continues to play at the Charing Cross Theatre until the 18th November. You can book tickets here.


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