“Bring Back the Mice”

For Hypocrite Reader’s Horror and Comedy issue, I talk about last year’s re-vamp of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Woman in White” musical, the sensation novel, ‘updating’ Victorian texts, the gothic and crap feminism.
You can read the piece here.
Here’s a bit that didn’t fit into the review, but which I found interesting:

The original West End production took some flack for its projection-sets, which some critics thought looked like a cheap special effect, and a wonky turntable effect. A contemporary American theatre could have pulled the revolve off smoothly enough, American theatre always being blessed with more money than anything else worth having. Nunn himself had previously used a turntable to great effect in his production of Les Miz (https://www.indyweek.com/arts/archives/2012/02/19/when-the-spinning-stopped-les-miserables-25th-anniversary-at-progress-energy-center). But British theatres are often forced to rely more on motor and truck automation; winched systems [http://www.theatrecrafts.com/pages/home/topics/automation-scenic/glossary/]. Sophisticated turntables were largely out of the technical and financial reach of West End productions (indeed, touring Les Miz productions had to drop theirs, and the West End Les Miz itself gave it up in a ‘modernisation’/scaling back), which are of course working with generally older theatres (where the sheer weightof a really good turn table becomes an issue) until this year’s Hamilton production, which relies very heavily on that effect, necessitated a thorough, expensive and time-consuming revamp of Victoria Palace. And god knows when Hamilton will vacate and let someone else have a crack at it. This smaller production chose to address the difficulty of dramatically re-staging the piece by pretty much abandoning ‘design’ as a concept, going incognito as a cheaper, Fringier production than this actually was (the original was staged in 2004–these rights aren’t cheap). Everything looked a bit am-dram naturalism.


One thought on ““Bring Back the Mice”

  1. By the way, Fun Home, at the Young Vic, used a turntable quite substantially. I imagine that being in a newer building made that more achievable. In general, I was impressed with the production values in that theater, which I had expected to be more threadbare, relatively speaking, than the West End theaters. There’s a bit where the stage is hidden by a curtain, then when it lifts the previously-bare stage has been completely decorated. I was stunned by how deep the set-dressing revealed the stage to be.

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