Gay’s the Word at Jermyn Street Theatre
Gay’s the Word was Ivor Novello’s last musical and this piece might be described as a loving ode to show business.
Gay, a veteran stage star, performs her new show in Manchester, but it’s a dud and she daren’t take it to London. Facing financial ruin, she’s thrown a lifeline by Linda, a young starlet, who offers money to start a stage school. Gay has to accept and she starts teaching a posse of wannabes. Economic problems resurface, but one of the students shrewdly outmanoeuvres some shady characters who store illicit goods in the school and Gay is left with plenty of money to produce a show that restores her fame.
Director/choreographer Stewart Nicholls delivers a production of crisp precision – a lively ensemble sings with panache and dances with barely a foot wrong. The sub-plot love story of two of the students isn’t quite so sharp. Josh Little’s Peter is supposed to be green but you feel that the actor is, too. Helena Blackman, though, gives a lush rendering of Linda, singing beautifully and infusing the love story with much needed passion. As for Gay, Sophie-Louise Dann gives a fabulous performance. In one song she calls for “vitality” on stage and she herself exudes it in every word and gesture.
Like many musicals, this piece is thin on drama. We never feel that Gay’s financial woes are an urgent crisis, so when money problems are solved and she makes her triumphant return to the stage it doesn’t feel as euphoric as it probably should. But it’s unfair to criticise the piece for what it is not, rather it should be praised for what it is: a pleasantly frivolous musical that is performed with plenty of verve and vitality.
Gay’s the Word is at Jermyn Street Theatre until 2nd March, 2013. For further information or to book tickets visit the theatre’s website here.