The Apple Tree at Ye Olde Rose and Crown
Originally premiered on Broadway in 1966, All Star Productions take The Apple Tree to the rustic Ye Olde Rose and Crown pub theatre in the up-and-coming area of Walthamstow, and inject a new lease of life and contemporary humour to this classic. The original show ran for 463 performances, the score written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, who also wrote scores for classics Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, and Fiorello.
The Apple Tree is a trio of short musicals: The Diary of Adam and Eve, The Lady or the Tiger, and Passionella. Written in the mid-60s, when the woman’s liberation movement was in full swing, these three love stories focus heavily on a female protagonist complemented by a male counterpart, the female lead being faced with difficult choices and adversity in overtly masculine environments.
The first act, adapted from The Diary of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain, is the classic story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Gethsemane. Catriona Mackenzie shines in her immensely likeable portrayal of Eve, consistently injecting loveable humour into the storyline where she is led astray to eat the forbidden fruit; she plays Eve with intelligent yet adorable impish qualities. The Lady and the Tiger takes the production up a notch, the cast turning this indie stage into musical theatre worthy of Broadway. The musical numbers are impeccable and enthralling to watch; the cast full of passion though there’s always a glimmer of cheekiness to the numbers. Passionella, the final piece in this charming adventure, is the show stopper. A star is born in Michaela Cartmell, playing Ella, a down-in-the-gutter chimney sweep who dreams of movie stardom (complemented by the vintage-style production, which harkens back to 50s black and white movies). Michaela’s enchantingly seductive performance details a rags to riches story. She’s captivating and embraces slapstick, camp humour and showmanship to end this marvellous performance on a beautifully glamorous high.
All Star Productions employ a fringe ethic of staging rarely performed and neglected musical theatre productions. The last and only time The Apple Tree was performed in the UK was 12 years ago, making this outing something quite special. The cast do a stellar job of presenting a slick though tongue-in-cheek performance they so obviously enjoy. The Apple Tree is a glorious and unmissable triptych, worthy of the West End.
The Apple Tree is on at the Ye Olde Rose and Crown from 12th until 30th August, for further information or to book visit here.