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The Sweet Smell Of Success - Arcola Theatre


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#1 Front Row Dress

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:16 PM

Hate starting a thread to link to my blog, but surprised I couldn't find one anywhere else. An amazing cast including David Bamber, Stuart Matthew Price and Celia Graham and an incredible band in a fantastic space, which is still under construction so is freezing cold, but really well worth the trip to Dalston if you like dark, jazzy musicals, but wrap up warm.

I've searched out some reviews, so here they are together with mine

Mark Shenton raves in The Stage http://www.thestage....mell-of-success
4 stars Telegraph http://www.telegraph...tre-review.html
4 stars WhatsOnStage http://www.whatsonst...of Success.html
3 stars Guardian http://www.guardian....-success-review
3 stars Evening Standard http://www.standard....ew-8319379.html
4 stars Me http://www.frontrowd...ess-arcola.html
www.frontrowdress.com

#2 freckles

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:07 PM

I'm glad you have started the thread as I am going to see this next week, having heard many good things about it. I was looking for some comments too!

The reviews all seem to like it, has anyone else been?

#3 mallardo

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:01 PM

I was always going to like this because Sweet Smell of Success is my favourite cast recording - or at least the most played one.  And this production did not let me down.  Some truly great voices in a score that needs them.  Adrian der Gregorian was a fine Sidney Falco and he knocked At The Fountain right out of the park, making the huge money note sound easy.  Stuart Matthew Price was terrific as Dallas, as was Caroline Keiff as Susan.  Their great duet number, Don't Know Where You Leave Off - to me the best song in the show - was amazing.  Celia Graham made the most of  Rita's Song.  If I mention David Bamber last it's because his JJ Hunseker made less of an impression on me but he was good.

The choreography worked, especially in the showpiece number, Dirt. The band was great.  And, bonus, Stephen Sondheim was in the audience!!!  He seemed to enjoy the show.
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#4 freckles

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 09:11 AM

Wow, sounds like you had a good night mallardo, in such exalted company too.

Looking forward to it very much. Did you find the theatre easily, never been before?

#5 mallardo

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 11:52 AM

It was the matinee, in fact.  Yes, I love the fact that Sondheim would take a day off in London to travel out to Dalston to see a fringe production of a musical he must have seen on Broadway.  As I noted, I took a peek his way every once in a while and he was definitely enjoying it.

As for getting there, it was my first time as well and it was easy.  In my case, I took the District Line to Whitechapel and then the Overground Railway to Dalston Junction - a quick connection.  From there the theatre is literally across the street and around a corner.
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#6 Reich

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:35 AM

Wow. This is absolutely amazing

The score is astoundingly tuneful – I ordered it as soon as I came out of the theatre. Enough positive words can’t describe it. One of those nights when everything comes together. Best live performance I’ve seen in such a long time. Go go go.


:D :D :D

Broadway has been very good to me. But then, I've been very good to broadway.


#7 freckles

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:59 AM

I went last night and adored it, what a high quality production for such an small "off West End" venue.

I thought the cast were all superb; they have to be when the audience is that close. But really stunning vocally, especially the leads. I thought the score more striking that others have said; like Reich I l have looked it up & played it already & certain numbers definitely stick in my head.

My particular favourite was Stuart Matthew Price singing I Cannot Hear The City, which was just spellbinding. I had heard Idina Menzel perform this in her recent concert - as a tribute to the late Marvin Hamlisch - and didn't realise it was from this show. But as I said, all of the leads were strong & engaging.

Yes, the book is a little sluggish in places but I feel this production maximised the beauty of the music & the choreography was something else, so dramatic & vibrant, the dancers really exploded onto the stage. The band were excellent too, if a little loud in places, but maybe that's because I sat quite near them.

There was an email pinned to the notice board in the foyer from Marvin Hamlisch's wife, congratulating the cast & saying how she was sure Marvin would have been thrilled with the production, which she had heard amazing things about. I like to think Mr Sondheim had given her a call after his visit!

Oh - and I found the theatre no problem, very close to Dalston Junction. Nice bar (bit pricey though) but another super new venue. The padded chairs in the auditorium are certainly a plus.

I would urge everyone to see this, as several reviewers have pointed out it is a fully fledged, West End quallity production in a lovely intimate venue and therefore an experience not to be missed.

#8 Reich

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:21 AM

I totally agree.  And I was also there last night. Maybe our eyes caught across a crowded room?!

I was sat at the front (just behind one of the tables) and the sound was perfect

Broadway has been very good to me. But then, I've been very good to broadway.


#9 freckles

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:48 AM

Maybe they did!

I was at the side - the band side, a few rows back. Good view, just very occaisionally the band drowned out the vocal. If I go again I will know to sit at the other side or the front...

#10 mallardo

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 11:53 AM

Glad you both enjoyed it - and that's great about Hamlisch's wife e-mailing!  Re the band, yes they were loud but it's the nature of the piece.  And when was the last time you heard a trumpet, trombone and two saxes in a fringe musical band?  I thought they were sensational - kudos to music director Bob Broad (who did all of Dallas's piano playing!).

If you don't know the original movie it's worth checking out to see how well this show captures its lurid atmosphere and its sound.  The film's score was by Elmer Bernstein and it's a classic.  Marvin Hamlisch got its essence exactly right without in any way copying it.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.




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