The Tailor-Made Man at the Arts Theatre
In the heart of the West End the smallest theatre in London, the Arts Theatre, plays host to the first run of Claudio Macor’s new musical, The Tailor-Made Man.
It tells the story of William Haines, a silent screen star for MGM who, during the transition from silence to sound, was found in the arms of a sailor and subsequently arrested, then bailed and fired by MGM. Shortly afterward, Haines was sequestered into a sham marriage which was quickly called off, he then fled show business with his long term partner Jimmy Shields.
The story is compelling and has a lot of potential for humor, love and drama. The cast perform admirably: Dylan Turner (Chariots of Fire) plays William Haines with all the necessary bravado and wit, and Bradley Clarkson is Haines’ lapdog, Jimmy, with a comical presence and an earnest manner. Faye Tozer (of Steps fame) takes on the role of screen star Marion Davies – and turns up the glamour and the volume of her hair, but misses the mark on both glamour and volume when it comes to her singing.
Mike McShane (Little Shop of Horrors) appears to be playing a round of Whose Line Is It Anyway when it comes to his part as Louis B Mayer, coming across as warm, lighthearted and bear-like as he always does, and turning the part of the tyrannical villain of the piece into a bit of comic relief.
The book, written by Amy Rosenthal, is weak at best. The result on stage is very little tension or drama, and where there is a hint of friction it is brushed away in a few minutes with a rectifying song or dramatic contrivance. None of the characters develop or learn from the events of the play; each character is set in stone, with the only change being Haines becoming an interior designer.
The music was penned by Duncan Walsh Atkins and Adam Meggido, who also did the lyrics. It is serviceable – no memorable tunes, no brilliant moments, not awful just not special, and it exploits all the Hollywood clichés for cheap laughs.
The musical ends with a suicide – a melancholic conclusion to a generally dispiriting show.
The Tailor-Made Man is at the Arts Theatre until 6th April 2013. For further information or to book visit the show’s website here.