We round up the reviews for the London premiere of the musical.

(c) Pamela Raith

The Guardian: *** “Even when the musical risks slackening the thread of Ada’s quest, Russell keeps it taut, giving a shining performance of quiet resolve. In faded rose pinny with practical pockets (Sara Perks’ costumes have a snug hold on character), she clasps her handbag tight even in the Dior fitting room. Russell’s voice can be hushed or soar with withheld hope: she brims with loss, loneliness and the yearn for something more.”

Express.co.uk: **** “Suffused with benevolence and dramatised by some unexpected twists this is a heartwarming, eye-prickling cri de coeur masquerading as a musical. Wonderful.”

Time Out: **** “From Kelly Price as the initially haughty Madame Colbert, to Charlotte Kenney as wistful model Natasha, to Nathanael Campbell as lovelorn Andre, Lagan gives us a picture postcard Paris that evokes the exhilaration Mrs Harris feels during a private view at the Dior store. It’s all charmingly funny in the best possible way.”

The Arts Desk: **** “Despite its 1950s setting and period details, Flowers for Mrs Harris is a beautifully structured piece of contemporary musical theatre that is also an exceptional example of the art of adaptation. Lagan and musical director Jonathan Gill have worked wonders to bring it to London – its spiritual home, perhaps – and the evening belongs to Russell in what may be one of her finest roles to date.”

Theatre & Tonic: **** “Flowers for Mrs Harris is unashamedly sentimental, squeezing every possible bit of emotion out of its story. However, this sentiment never becomes cloying or mawkish. The first act is perhaps a little bit too long, taking its time to establish the various characters and showing us Ada’s quest to raise the money for her life-changing trip to Paris. But the second act is a joyful experience, as Ada rediscovers herself and puts colour back into both her life and the lives of the people around her. It’s a charming show that is as uplifting as it is moving and will restore your faith in human nature.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “This Cinderella story dares you to dream, while also stressing the value of grounded, caring relationships. As Dior model Natasha explains, sometimes you want parties and Champagne, but sometimes you just want to share chocolate cake with the person you love.”

Broadway World: **** “This heartwarming and charming musical is concluded with a joyous happy ending, although not the one Mrs Harris had thought she wanted, it was one which gave her what she needed. It is slightly rushed ending, which doesn’t pack as much emotion as may have been expected from such a hopeful story. However, this remains an engaging and graceful musical, filled with hope and positivity.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Flowers for Mrs Harris retains its ability gently to break your heart even as you smile with recognition. It’s a lovely show.”

The Stage: **** “Jenna Russell is exquisite in this glorious musical of grief, friendship and self-discovery directed by Bronagh Lagan.”

Lost in Theatreland: **** “Lovely, however, is also the flaw in the musical, and I struggle to think of a production that can get past it. We may weep for Mrs Harris, but there is something too artificial in this tale of sweetness and light. Every obstacle placed in her way is instantly solved; drama never lasts for more than a minute before someone has thought of a way around it.”

Theatre Weekly: “It takes its time getting there, but the investment pays off for the audience when Flowers for Mrs Harris eventually reaches its touching and heartwarming climax. This is a blooming good musical that celebrates the goodness in people and gives us all a little hope that dreams can come true…if we’re prepared to put the effort in. “

Jonathan Baz Reviews: **** “But the evening belongs to Russell who delivers arguably the finest take on Ada Harris yet seen in this country. Flowers For Mrs Harris is gorgeous modern writing and an enchanting evening’s entertainment.”

Always Time for Theatre: “While this type of story risks stereotyping working class people, it successfully manoeuvres class issues and why it’s important to look at the person within. Flowers for Mrs Harris is a beautiful story of navigating grief, the power of friendship and self-discovery. This bloomin’ marvellous musical is about much more than just buying a dress.”

West End Best Friend: **** “While Flowers for Mrs Harris doesn’t quite land the knockout blows we have become accustomed to in modern musical theatre, it certainly packs a significant emotional punch. Patience is rewarded as a stellar cast and character-led storytelling makes for compelling viewing as you find yourself willing Ada on at every step of her remarkable journey.”

West End Wilma: **** “Feeling like a big warm hug, this production of Flowers For Mrs Harris is utterly delightful and lingers in your heart long after the final curtain call. The production really transports the audience into a world of charm and heart. From the stunning performances to the captivating storytelling, Flowers For Mrs Harris leaves you with a lingering sense of hope and a reminder of the beauty found in the simplest of dreams and acts of kindness.”

Musical Theatre Review: ***** “At the heart of this production is the acclaimed Jenna Russell: Olivier Award winner and much-loved star of stage and screen. She positively blooms as Ada and is iridescent, just like shimmering organza. Convincing as a woman worn down with life and loss, Russell makes us see that there is ‘There is More to Life’, as one of her key songs says. Being authentic is an over-used term today, but Russell is this and more. Her skill playing Ada is such that we believe this fairy story: Dior’s dream that his dresses make women feel like a ‘princess’, and that a careworn charlady living in ration-restricted London can scrimp and save for a Dior dress, ending up in Paris!”

The Reviews Hub: **** “Even though one may not leave Flowers for Mrs. Harris humming the tunes, it will be impossible to leave without a warm glow in the heart. Ada Harris has that effect on people, but so too does Jenna Russell. She, and the musical, are blooming marvellous.”

The Spy in the Stalls: **** “A touch sentimental and safe maybe, but the warmest and most comforting antidote you could find for the oncoming autumnal evenings. Oh, and a hidden star of the show that can’t be avoided: Sara Perks’ costumes would walk proud on any Parisian catwalk.”

Flowers for Mrs Harris continues to play at the Riverside Studios until the 25th November. You can also book tickets here.


%d bloggers like this: