If you’re looking for a big, ballsy, Broadway-style evening you might not be expecting it in a theatre beside the arch of a bridge in South East London, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
“Mrs Sally Adams requests the pleasure of your company” is the first thing that is sung in the show, and immediately you are drawn into this cast. The story starts with the announcement that Sally Adams (Lucy Williamson) has been appointed the US ambassador for a fictional country called Lichtenburg. While she is the ambassador, Sally manages to use her charm on the locals and a politian named Cosmo Constantine (Gavin Kerr). However Cosmo is far too proud to take a $100,000,000 loan from the States for his poverty stricken country.
At times, the pacing of the show can be a little off, but maybe that is just musicals in general. Sometimes the atmosphere is really happy and then we have sadness, and if you’re not used to that it can toy with your emotions. The falling in love element really did nothing for the story; I did feel compassion for Sally’s press officer and the princess of Lichtenburg falling in love but the scenes with Sally and Cosmo just did nothing for me.
The group dance numbers were tight in the small space; watching them felt like the ensemble could not be as big and bold with their moves as they wanted o, because they feared that their hand might hit a pole in the room. However, during the number ‘Something to Dance About’, where couples performed different dances, it was electrifying. The tap dancing piece during this song is to absolutely die for. Choreographer of the show Mark Smith took the limited spacing he had and made that scene faultless.
The only things I didn’t like about this show are things that are really down to personal taste. Other than that, the show is really amazing. There is nothing like this on in London at the moment, filled with an old-school singalong that will have you singing the tunes for days. During the interval every person I walked past was humming ‘The Washington Square Dance’.
Lucy Williamson absolutely steals the show as Sally Adams. I have never seen somebody so comfortable in a role before; would it be clichéd to say that it looked like she was absolutely born to play that role? Well I have said it, and I am sticking to my guns. I cannot wait to see her in different roles in the future.
We cannot leave the rest of the cast out; Leo Miles and Natalie Lipin playing the star-crossed lovers Kenneth Gibson and Princess Maria had the best musical numbers in the show, and when Miles and Williamson come together to sing ‘You’re Just in Love’ the comic timing and talent of the pair shows. The big number from the senators (Blake J Askew, Ralph Birtwell and Jay Worthy) from Washington is also a highlight of the show. Call Me Madam also shows just how much better a show can be when you have an amazing ensemble behind the leads of the show – they kept the energy going when sometimes it could have fell.
In a nutshell Call Me Madam has problems like the Genie in the movie Aladdin: phenomenal talent but an itty bitty living space. The cast and crew work try their hardest to put on an amazing show and it paid off in the end.
Call Me Madam is showing at The Union Theatre till 27 October. For more information and tickets, see the Union Theatre website.