Little Waltham Drama Group
Elizabeth von Armin's Twenties novel about the restorative
properties of the Italian sunshine has been filmed twice, and is now,
wouldn't you know, a musical.
This charming Broadway version by Matthew Barber got what may well
be its UK première on
the tiny Little Waltham
stage last week.
Director Mags Simmonds gave it
a convincing sheen of authenticity; the first act is all anticipation, in
the second we escape to the wisteria and sunshine – a gorgeous backdrop by
Liz Willsher - in the entertaining company of a
quartet of ladies unable to resist a month in Heaven.
Susan Butler, as Lottie, the instigator of the
invitations, shared her enthusiasm with the audience as well as with her
contrasting counterpart, the “disappointed Madonna” poignantly played by
Victoria Rossiter. Their travelling companions
were brilliantly characterized by Kim Travell as the glamorous, flapperish Lady Bramble, and June Franzen
as the formidable Mrs Graves, making the most of every line, every laugh in
a memorable performance.
The husbands – Gordon MacSween's
humourless lawyer and Brian Corrie's
salacious novelist – make the journey to San Salvatore too, to be thawed by
the warmth of the Riviera.
The maid Costanza was a hilarious Linda Burrow; Ken Little played the
doting “Tonio” whose attentions help the “grey
sisters” to reveal their hidden depths.
The themes of loss, regret, revelation and reconciliation are
lightly touched on, and the whole fairytale confection was a delightful divertissement
for the last night of April.