Reviews are out for ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ and they’re… well, not great.
The West End Whingers ‘reviewed’ us before press night (black mark in my book), they went in expecting to hate it and hated it christening it ‘Lend Me a Pillow’ – I doubt you could sleep through the show, there’s too much laughing from the audience, door slamming and general hilarity. To be honest, even though I read the WEW blog I don’t really take them seriously, I have for a long time thought that they give good reviews to the shows they’ve been invited to by producers who have caught on to the ‘anonymous’ free publicity blogs can give. They do this rubbish about covering their faces in photographs, trying to gain some notoriety I suppose in a sort of “ooh, we’re edgy and if producers knew who we were they’d bar us from seeing the show.” way.
The Guardian gave us 3 stars but the review itself is a bit snooty as they don’t like that a farce has a ‘moral’ (!!). The Times gave us a brilliant review (4 stars) and it looks like that reviewer from The Times was more in-tune with the audience – they almost gave it three stars but the audience’s enjoyment swayed them (“My fourth star hovered for a while, uncertain: it was won by the unforced glee of the preview audience. For it’s a good-hearted show with real laughs: not to be sniffed at.”) The Stage absolutely loved it saying “…this is by far and away the most accomplished musical comedy opening in the West End this season.” I don’t think The Evening Standard stayed for the second act, they agree with the West End Whingers and I have to say – if the Evening Standard reviewer thinks that the tunes are instantly forgettable I’d love to know his secret, I’ve hummed ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ ever since the technical! It is interesting that the ‘reviewer’ gave it 2 stars but the reader rating is 4 stars. (Update: The Arts Desk gave us a good review “…it’s not “Lend me a pillow”, as one vicious wagster put it, but “Take me again”. And if you like to see showbiz staging at its slick, frivolous best, you shouldn’t miss it either.”)
Audiences and critics are in disagreement here, the audiences we’ve had have loved the show and even if we’ve only had two levels open and have barely filled them we get standing ovations, cheers… all the signals that the audience is having a great time. Hopefully then it’ll be word of mouth and social media that sells the show.
I can’t tell you how nice it is to work on a show where everyone in it is a very talented professional. Saturday night the lead, Max (Damian Humbley) fumbled the wine bottle thrown to him by Tito (Michael Matus), dropped it and slipped over in the broken glass cutting his arm pretty badly (he went to A&E after the show) – watching from the spots we could see his shirt sleeve getting redder and he seemed to bleed all over Tito in the bed – he carried on with everything regardless, even directing cast away from the glass/water on stage. Major kudos and he got a well deserved cheer at the end. Saturday night was a bit of a show for things going wrong, in the second act Cassidy Jansen’s (playing Maggie) dress came undone during her number with the in-disguise Max – audience had a good giggle, stage management didn’t know what was going on and I managed to muck up my spot cue in trying to let them know over cans (I don’t have a clip on my belt pack so it was on the spot stand and my spot ‘wanders’ if you don’t keep a tight hold of it). There’s a line in the show that’s something like “from this point forward, there is nothing that could possibly go wrong.” – it got the biggest laugh of the night.
Maybe they could use it for a bit of publicity – the cast literally bleed for their art 😛