Tuesday, 18 February 2014

'Finian's Rainbow' at the Union Theatre

This evening we went to see 'Finian's Rainbow' at the bijou Union Theatre in Southwark. I've never seen it on stage - it hasn't been performed professionally in London for over 50 years and I missed the Broadway revival a few years back by a week or so. I have, of course, seen the film with Petula Clark, Fred Astaire and Tommy Steele. I saw it in the early '70s and it stayed with me. I wonder why it isn't a daytime staple? It should be, it's a lovely film.

It's the tale of Finian McLonegan who takes his granddaughter Sharon to America to find his fortune in Rainbow Valley, close to Fort Knox. His secret comes out quite early, that's he's found the crock of gold belonging to leprechaun Og and he's going to plant it in the good soil of America to grow more gold. Unfortunately it's loss is turning Og mortal but it still has it's power to grant three wishes. Sharon finds the man of her dreams and they settle in Rainbow Valley while her grandfather heads off to bring hope and joy to other places... taking the crock with him, obv.

Okay, so the story isn't the deepest but it's lovely and magical with some great songs to take it along at a nice pace. I'm delighted to have finally seen it performed.

And on to this production. Um. It doesn't seem to be doing terribly well with less than half of the seats taken for tonight's performance (maybe Tuesday is a quite night?). It almost seemed like there were more people on stage than in the audience (there isn't actually a stage as such). Despite that, the cast gave us their all tonight, smiling away, singing and dancing, thrusting their energy and enthusiasm at us. I did lots of loud clapping to make up for the lack of audience.

James Horne played Finian and Christina Bennington was Sharon with Joseph Peters as the love interest, Woody. I quite liked Raymond Walsh as the energetic Og who was all over the place. There were 23 cast members plus a small band of three people so that was a lot of people on stage. The majority were young and just starting out on their careers and I congratulate them all on their professionalism in the face of poor ticket sales. Well done people! Keep looking to the rainbow and follow the fellow who follows a dream... I will.

If you have any magic in your soul then you'll want to go and see this. Book tickets now!

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