The Rink at Southwark Playhouse
In a whirlwind of hilarious banter and exhilarating roller skate dance numbers, The Rink debuts in London for the first time in almost 20 years on Southwark Playhouse’s intimate stage. Stars Caroline O’Connor (Anna) and Gemma Sutton (Angel) effortlessly resurrect the spirit of Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera’s trademark Broadway style to bring audiences this summer’s must-see musical. The first staging in the capital since a one-time West End run in 1988, this revival of the production brings fans of traditional theatre the elements they crave: from versatile song-and-dance performances to a live score following the steps of Olivier and Tony Award-winning lyricist Fred Ebb and composer John Kander.
Based on the book of the same name by Terrence McNally (Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Ragtime), the story follows a mother and daughter on their path to reconciliation on a day filled with flashbacks of painful memories. The daughter, Angel, returns to her hometown on the American East Coast to find that her mother, Anna, has sold their family’s now run-down roller skating rink and is about to depart to Florida and leave their beloved boardwalk behind. Angel does everything she can to stop the demolition of the family heirloom, and the two spend the day reminiscing over their individual pasts and estranged husband/father as they slowly begin to understand, accept and ultimately resolve their differences.
While it may seem tough to follow Broadway legends Minnelli and Rivera, O’Connor takes the stage with a dynamic, gracefully expert depiction of Anna. Having just concluded her stint playing a lead role in Broadway’s Anastasia, the actress seems to bring that experience and know-how to Southwark’s small stage. Sutton perfectly trails alongside her co-star with an equally powerful voice and perfected 1970s style, making the two an absolutely perfect match for the difficult parts.
Despite the small stage, the ensemble give the audience an outstanding performance that is guaranteed to excite. Most notably, the skate-and-dance number by the male actors with interchangeable roles is impressive, to say the least, and moved the audience to cheer and applaud for a solid 30 seconds. Overall, the cast’s rendition of The Rink does justice to a rarely seen musical that fans will be overjoyed to experience.
Photo: Darren Bell
The Rink is at Southwark Playhouse from 25th May until 23rd June 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.