One Touch Of Venus
Linbury Studio Theatre Royal Opera House, 10th December 2000
Review By Emma Shane
© January 2001
Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash originally wrote One Touch Of Venus, based on S.J Perelman’s book The Tinted Venus with the idea of Marlene Dietrich in the title role, she was not interested, so in the original 1943 stage production, the, role went to Mary Martin, and was played on film by Ava Gardiner. Some eight years ago when Ian Marshall-Fisher first rediscovered this Lost Musical, at The Barbican, he cast Louise Gold in the title role, a few years later a BBC Radio version conducted by John McGlinn starred Paige O’Hara. With Louise Gold employed in Mamma Mia, one wondered, with some trepidation, who on earth would play the part this time, the Goddess’s two most recent incarnations would be hard acts to follow. In fact, they followed by reprise.
This performance, in The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre, started, as is customary for the Lost Musicals, with Ian Marshall-Fisher introducing it, his introduction was unusually short. The cast were already on stage, with the leading lady was smiling broadly, perhaps an indication that we were in for a good show. Since The Linbury has, for a studio theatre, an unusually large stage, it could have the full orchestra treatment (a format which Marshall-Fisher seems to be moving towards, sometimes one misses the simplicity of the single piano, although tonight that was not the case). The band were situated at the back of the stage, behind the action, and with the singers (as is usual in Marshall-Fisher’s shows) being unmiked, this proved to be acoustically a perfect combination. The singers voices being heard perfectly clearly (some of the ladies in this production are pretty good at projecting anyway).
The show itself opens in an Art Museum, The Whitelaw Savoury Foundation, in New York in the late 1930’s A modern art class (consisting of most of the chorus) is in progress, and they sing New Art Is True Art. The class is taught by Whitelaw Savoury, played pretty well by Ethan Freeman, although Peter Gale (of the earlier Lost Musicals’, and the radio, version is something of a hard act to follow), with order being kept by Whitelaw’s secretary Miss Molly Grant, played by Jessica Martin. Savoury is not in the mood for teaching, and when Molly announces that the delivery men he sent to Asia Minor for that statue are here, he gives up altogether. The delivery men, Taxi Black and his assistant Stanley, well played by Kerry Shale and Daniel Gillingwater enter, and proceed to describe the various accidents that befell Stanley during their journey (they are convinced this has something to do with the statue), and go and fetch it from the elevator. One of the students remarks that "a classical statue's gonna look pretty wacky against all this modern stuff". So Molly explains to the class to "forget that stuff Savoury’s been dishn’ out. If you’ve got what Venus had you’re all set". She explains how a touch of Venus can help a girl along with the title song One Touch Of Venus. In the previous Lost Musicals production Molly was played by Mandy More, I did not see her performance, but from what I have heard, I expect that though it was probably very good, I can’t help but feel Jessica Martin may be just that little bit better. The Radio version had Kim Criswell play Molly, this is a harder act to follow, but Jessica is a fine performer, who makes the part sufficiently her own to follow that. She is certainly at least as good, although a somewhat different, a singer.
Taxi and Stanley return with the statue. Though there is no scenery, we have to allow for a little bit of scene changing here, while the performers, especially the actress playing the statue, get into position. Once in position, I was surprised during this scene how stock-still she managed to be. Even her eyes were totally still, not a single muscle appeared to flinch. Which perhaps just goes to prove, that when it is absolutely necessary to the performance, even the most irrepressible of actresses can be totally still, like a statue. Once the removal-men have finished setting up the statue and clearing away the packaging, as three is a crowd, Molly goes back to her knitting, leaving Savoury with the statue, who reminds him of a girl he used to know years ago, "the girl who got away".
At this point Rodney Hatch, The Barber, played by Michael Cantwell, enters, to shave Savoury, instead of Tony, the regular Barber, who is "in bed with Sciatica", prompting the wise-cracking Molly to say "Why tell me? Tell Mr Sciatica.". Rodney makes a few remarks about the statue, comparing its beauty unfavourably to his fiancée Gloria. Savoury is not amused, and left alone with the Statue, Rodney decides to prove his point, by trying Gloria’s engagement ring, which he has in his pocket, on the statue’s fingers, he doesn’t think it will fit, but it does. Suddenly everything changes, and it really is a case of "Love is pure Gold" as the statue comes to life, with Venus played by that Spirit of The Lost Musicals, Louise Gold. Tall, slim and beautiful, with becoming chestnut curls, highlighted by an artificial flower in her hair, she looks the part. But it is her acting ability that truly makes her believable in the role.
At first Venus is bemused to find herself in a strange building with a strange man, whom she quickly concludes is fated to be her lover, especially when she realises that she is wearing his ring, it is that which has brought her to life. She refuses to give it back "And turn this flesh to stone"; after all she has "waited 3000 years". Louise spoke commandingly, like both a Goddess and a Leading Lady, in full control of both the plot and performance. However, the Barber walks out on her, so Venus uses her powers, causing a blackout, she releases herself from the stand, and follows him, leaving Savoury and co to assume that The Barber must have stolen the statue.
The next scene takes place in Rodney’s apartment. We first find him on the phone to the jewellers, trying to buy a new ring, which he can’t afford, but he made 39 payments on the other one. He sums up the situation with That’s How Much I Love You. Suddenly Venus enters; did Rodney think she wouldn’t find him? She moves around the apartment trying to find the bed, and quizzing Rodney about where he sleeps. He tries to tell her she can’t stay, because there a law against "men and women rooming together", Venus is surprised "they’ve got around to regulating that." He goes on to say he never sleeps, because "My Landlady won’t let me", which Venus in all innocence mis-interprets. Venus eventually decides that Rodney’s nervousness is due to his having never yet slept with a woman.
Rodney is very worried about the way she is following him, and concerned about what will happen if anyone finds out. He is also aghast at her lack of clothing, we have to use our imagination here as, She is wearing a black evening-dress, with a slit at the back – showing off those lovely legs of hers, and her loose semi-transparent black top over it. Rodney asks "Have you been running around in this, Petticoat". "Why certainly." replies Venus, with Louise Gold very convincingly conveying the character’s complete innocence in her reply. The horrified Rodney exclaims "Well take it off", which is Louise’s cue to begin removing her loose top. He hurriedly says "I mean put something on over it". He adds that he can see her form. Venus realises that it isn’t her body Rodney objects to, merely her clothes, which she finds refreshing. The telephone rings, which frightens Venus, who doesn’t know what it is, but doesn’t like it. It is Rodney’s girlfriend Gloria Kramer, being pretty unkind to Rodney. Then, Rodney’s Landlady Mrs Moats enters, and is horrified to find a woman in his room, but Venus uses her powers to dispose of Mrs Moats. This gave Delianne Forget, as Mrs Moats, a brief chance to shine, keeling over to lie on the floor with her legs sticking up in the air. Louise Gold has a winning way of speaking lines, so, delightfully, Venus had the last word "There you see, don't meddle with destiny, darling."
Venus truly cannot understand Rodney, and going out into the street she summarises this with a song I’m A Stranger Here Myself. Louise Gold sang this number beautifully. It was truly characteristic of her performance throughout the entire show. For such an over the top actress Louise Gold can be amazingly subtle, handling double entendres in a disarmingly innocent manner. I am sure that, unlike Mary Martin, this actress knows full well the meaning of what she is singing, however such is her manner that one is utterly convinced that her character does not.
This number was followed by one of the more amazing parts of this concert staging. A reconstruction of Agnes De Mille’s Forty Minutes For Lunch Ballet, mainly performed by dancers from The Central School Of Ballet, but with our leading lady taking part. The Ballet starts with Louise in the centre of the stage as the dancers came on, Venus’s job is not to dance exactly, but rather to move graciously among the dancers during the Ballet, signalling to them with her hands what she wants them to do. This sort of role suits Louise Gold admirably, for, she has very expressive hands, and, although she is tall, she is surprisingly graceful, and carries herself majestically, in a manner that befits a Goddess. The central part of the Ballet has Venus "doing her job", by bringing two of the young people together, and concludes with them parting, because their lunch break is over.
Meanwhile Venus goes and breaks a shop window, and to the horrification of the shopkeeper, convincingly played by Matthew Earnes, and a crowd, enters, pulls the clothes off a model and puts them on. The shopkeeper tries to have the Police deal with her, but just at that moment Savoury and Molly are passing, Savoury notices "That girl", who looks just like a girl he was in love with years ago, and bullying the policeman, offers to pay the shopkeeper off. Savoury, then pursuers Venus, who, not returning his affections, laughingly tells him "I’m not a Policeman to be bullied or a shopkeeper to be bought". He says that if she ever wants anything done "if you need a rival poisoned, or a magic carpet woven" to come to him,. She says she will. As she departs he protests "But you don’t even know where to find me", "I’ll find you" is her parting shot, leaving Savoury alone on the stage to sing West Wind. Ethan Freeman sang this well, for he is a very fine singer Unfortunately for him, in this country, at least, that song has in recent years become rather closely associated with Peter Gale (who played Savoury in both the earlier Lost Musicals production and the BBC Radio version), so it is difficult for another actor to make it his own. If one had not heard Peter Gale, then this version was absolutely brilliant, if one had heard Peter, then the comparison is harder to make. Ethan’s performance in this song is a perfect example of his performance in the entire show. Good enough, but trying to follow a hard act.
Now we come to a scene that has probably remained much the same in all three recent productions in this country. Rodney goes to meet his girl, Gloria Kramer and her mother, Mrs Kramer off the bus from New Jersey, where they have been holidaying. He finds Venus has turned up too (although at least this time she is wearing decent clothes), he asks her to leave him and Gloria alone for 5 minutes, she does so sweetly, since "If you two are still vertical after five years, five minutes more won’t make any difference". Gloria and Mrs Kramer enter, escorted by Sam, a young man who they have met in New Jersey, and who is clearly attracted to Gloria. They have apparently had a dreadful holiday, but then as Mrs Kramer, or rather, in these three productions of One Touch Of Venus, Myra Sands, always says "The minute you cross the Hudson River, you are in The Wild West" She sings Way Out West In Jersey, backed up by Rodney and Gloria. As Rodney, Michael Cantwell sang the song passably, and, as Gloria, Lori-Haley Fox sang it very well (she normally works as a leading lady’s understudy in the West End), but this number really belongs to Lost Musicals stalwart Myra Sands, for if there is any single actress with whom the role or Mrs Kramer can be truly associated it Myra, who, after all, played it in: The earlier Lost Musicals Production, The BBC Radio production, and now this production. This song is one of her best moments in the show, as it gives her a chance to shine as a singer. Rodney goes to get a cab, but trying to avoid Venus, goes the wrong way, meanwhile Taxi Black who has been spying on the proceedings offers to take Mrs Kramer home in his car. Rodney returns, having failed to find a cab. Gloria turns on him about her ring, he tries to explain, but Gloria gets angry, so Rodney swears at her, which shocks her. Venus cannot help but make her presence known and joins in, and Gloria goes off in a huff. Though Rodney is grateful to Venus for her help, he still doesn’t want her in his life. Venus departs, and Rodney sings a bitter reprise of That’s How Much I Love You, or rather That’s How I Am Sick Of Love.
Meanwhile, back at the Art Gallery, Savory is watching a class of students sketching the maid, Rose. He says to one young man in particular "That’s a very interesting perspective. I’d like to meet your mother", the line was even more amusing then originally intended, since it reminded some of us of the Mamma Mia song Does Your Mother Know (well given who sings it!). Taxi Black enters, with Mrs Kramer, this scene is another great moment for the experienced Myra Sands, they tell him that they suspect Rodney of being guilty, as Mrs Kramer says "If you ask me he’s some kind of a radical", before being escorted to the kitchen, for "a cool glass of beer". Savoury decides that he will go to the Barbershop himself. Molly tries to dissuade him, after all he is "an eccentric millionaire, not Huckleberry Finn". He protests, "It’s my Statue, isn’t it?" At this point Venus enters, she said she’d find Savoury. She is in trouble, which she expresses in song Poor Foolish Heart. The song gave the powerful Louise Gold a chance to show us just what a sweet and beautiful ballad singer she can be. Savoury realises that her problem is that she is in love. When he realises it is with The Barber he is horrified, but does not show it. She explains that she is sure The Barber is in love with her, but afraid to say so, because he is in love with another woman. Savoury suggests that "the thing to do is eliminate the rival", and after a little hesitation Venus agrees, and departs, still singing.
Savoury, Taxi, and Stanley get together and go to The Barber-shop, they initially pretend to be friendly, and the quartet commiserate over the The Trouble With Women. They performed the number by no means badly, and it got a good applause. They persuade Rodney to go down to the cellar with one of them. At this point Gloria enters the Barbershop, and thinking she is Rodney’s accomplice, the other two promptly tie her up, only they don’t know who she is. Their co-conspirator returns, without Rodney, whom he had to slug, and without locating the missing statue. Hearing someone coming they all leg it out to fix up an alibi, if only they’d stayed! The audience could see just who was coming, our magnificently tall gracious goddess! Venus enters the shop, and seeing the tied-up Gloria helpfully unties her. At first Gloria is grateful, until she realises who it is, where-upon she gets angry, and raises her voice, causing Venus to make one of her many delightful mixed-up remarks, "You know I can hear you as plainly as though you were in the next room." It is testimony to Louise Gold’s abilities as a comic actress that she can deliver lines like these not only with a totally straight face, but completely deadpan, true she has had a lot of practice. Finding Gloria to be coming impossible, Venus sends her "on a nice long trip to the moon".
Rodney enters, having clearly hurt his head. Venus is full of assistance, putting her arms round him in a motherly manner, letting him cuddle up to her chest, she tells him to just let himself go. He finds that this helps, and that he had never felt like this before, Venus tells him that it’s a long time since anyone has. They duet Speak Low. The first verse of this song was sung beautifully, by Louise Gold, the second somewhat less well by Michael Cantwell. For the last verse they sang together, with Louise fortunately dominating the number. Michael Cantwell is usually a good singer, however, tonight, his singing, though not bad, seemed to be a little off. It is lucky for him that he was dueting this number with Louise Gold, for she has a rare ability to compensate a weaker duetist, managing to overshadow without showing up, distracting the audience’s attention, in such a way that her fellow singer’s shortcomings are not so noticeable. Unfortunately she also has a tendency to employ this technique when it is not necessary, however, on this occasion it seemed to be highly useful. Rodney notices Mr Savoury’s coat hanging up, looking in the pocket he finds a note from a detective saying he stole a statue. Venus decides "It’s time we had a few words with Mr Savoury", Rodney agrees "I’ll show him who stole his old statue", "With a statue like me, I’m glad it’s you" replies the cheerfully unwittingly witty Venus, and the pair set off to Art Students annual ball.
At the ball, the actors are standing in a line at the front of the stage. Savoury is in the centre, Mrs Kramer towards the centre a little to Savoury’s left, Venus and Rodney, who have just entered are at the far end of the line on the left of the stage, to Savoury’s right. Savoury informs Rodney he has just heard that "Gloria Kramer your fiancée has disappeared and the police suspect fowl play". He then gives a little entertainment Here’s To Doctor Crippen, during which we could clearly see Myra Sands peering across the line and across Savoury – who was evidently indicating to her where to look, at Louise Gold, as Venus, who at the key line, about Ethel Le Nave wearing Belle Elmer’s jewels, mimes using a compact. At this moment, the song ends abruptly as Mrs Kramer exclaims "That’s my daughter’s compact, the hussy is powdering her nose with it, HE did it." Rodney is promptly arrested for murdering Gloria, and protests his innocence. Venus tries to join it, Savoury protests "But you're not involved", and Venus admits she did it. Rodney tries tell the police not to listen to her, but Venus persists with simple honesty "Really I did. The girl was becoming impossible so I dissolved her." This shocks Mrs Kramer. The Police Lieutenant, well played by Michael Howell, leads Venus and Rodney away to gaol, with Venus trying to cheer Rodney up "This is our honeymoon", while the rest of the company conclude Act 1 by finishing Here’s To Dr Crippen.
Act 2 opens at the Art Foundation, we find Molly chatting to Rose, played well enough, by Aileen Donohoe the maid, from Iowa with the Irish brogue, "the employment agency recommended a touch of dialect". Molly tells her to "stick to the local patois". Savoury enters and enquires if there is any word from George Dreamy about getting Venus bail. Molly telephones Dreamy, and has a conversation with his secretary Miss Conquest. It was not easy for Jessica Martin to make this spoken scene her own, since Kim Criswell did it so delightfully in the Radio version, however she was by no means bad. When the men finally talk, we find a complication, Venus won’t leave gaol, she’s locked herself from the inside. Thinking Hatherway (the cook) has entered with Savoury’s breakfast Molly leaves him.
However it is not Hatherway who has entered, but a Turkish thug named Zuveti. When Ian Marshall-Fisher’s gang did this before Zuveti was played by James Vaughan, however this time he was unavailable due to family commitments; So the role was taken by the Lost Musicals’s staunchest supporter himself, Dick Vosburgh, who probably played the role in the BBC Radio version. Zuveti threatens Savoury, for profaning The Goddess, and insists that the statue must be returned before the old moon wanes, or he, Savoury will never greet the new moon. Savoury protests that he hasn’t got the statue, because Hatch stole it. So Zuveti departs to locate Hatch.
Molly enters to say that Hatherway is in the coal cellar, nursing his injuries. Savoury says he will be along as soon as he can find his straight-jacket and departs. Molly reflects to the audience, with envy of Savoury’s life of wealth, with the song Very Very Very. Until this point although Jessica had played the part well, she is a fine actress in her own right; the role was still a little haunted by Kim Criswell’s performance in the radio version. Here at last Jessica Martin got a chance to truly shine making the role of Molly Grant her very own. Very Very Very is a song that can be sung two ways. Either it can be done, mono-accently, as Kim Criswell did - Kim is a good singer, she is not exactly good at accents. Or it can be done multi-accently. And being one of those people who really can do accents, Jessica Martin choose to sing it this way. Which, at least with a singer who can do it well, is a much more interesting and effective way of doing it. Thus Jessica made both the song and the part very much her own.
The next scene took place in The Tombs Prison, which is presided over by a Matron, played by Abigail Langham with a Psychiatrist, played quite well by Dan Bates (another of those good comic male actors that Ian Marshall-Fisher is always finding) visiting the prisoners. First he sees Rodney. The scene between Rodney and Dr Rook was like something out of a bad comedy, as the psychiatrist and the warden contrived to get Rodney to appear insane. Eventually they put him back in his cell, concluding he is "A clear Psychiatric case". They bring Venus out, which proved to be a true delight. Having taken her seat, to the audience’s surprise, Louise drew her long legs up, in such a way that she was sitting with her left side to the audience and the large slit in the back of her dress was now twisted to face them, so that her thighs were clearly visible. Fortunately Louise Gold has fine legs, suitable for such a position. Like Hermione Baddley "They’re good all the way up". But it was not just Louise’s appearance that made the scene delightful. Ogden Nash had written some terrific lines, and Louise spoke them with her own brand of disarming innocence. In particular, two moments, on being asked who her parents were she replied "The Mediterranean", and when the Psychiatrist asked how he could contact Homer and Virgil, Venus replied "Go to Hell". In Greek and Roman Mythology, everybody went to Hades, The Underworld. At this point the Psychiatrist gives up. Venus is now visited by Molly, who had finally figured out who Venus is, and what happened to the statue. Their little interchange said as much about the two actresses playing the parts as it did about their characters, when Venus told Molly "you’re a very thoughtful person" to which Molly replied "And you’re a very nice one. In fact, you’re the nicest Goddess I ever met". Venus’s last visitor, by now she was back in her cell, is Zuveti. Whom she has absolutely no wish to see, and sounds and looks visibly board asking him "What do you want". He proceeds to ask her to return to her people. The scene was funny, mainly because it was pretty well played by Dick Vosburgh (although I suspect that James Vaughan may have been even funnier when he did it eight years ago). It was, nice to see Dick Vosburgh for once out on stage, acting in a Lost Musical, usually his contribution is behind the scenes. It was, perhaps, particularly appropriate he should have a scene with Louise Gold, in a Kurt Weill musical, since, he got her involved with The Lost Musicals in the first place (in Love Life), having got to know her after her appearance in The Pirates Of Penzance film, although he had first heard of her many years previously when she was a schoolgirl at Arts Educational.
Finally left alone (in separate cells) Venus and Rodney can talk. Rodney tells Venus of his escape plans, which she points out will not work. They sing a reprise of Speak Low. Again Michael Cantwell’s solo singing seemed a little off, but when she joined in Louise Gold happily dominated as she is wont to do. Venus uses her powers to spring Rodney and herself from gaol. This is a cue for Whitlaw Savoury, Molly Grant, Mrs Kramer and the chorus to sing Catch Hatch. They all sang it very well indeed, with a lot of enthusiasm.
We find Rodney and Venus in a hotel room. Venus cannot understand what is worrying Rodney, he explains "We’re in a heck of a hole until Gloria turns up." This is easily fixed, by Venus’s powers, Gloria materialises, fit as a fiddle, and is shocked to find Rodney Hatch "in a hotel room, with an Actress". She promptly dumps the utter utter cad, and, to quote Venus "Sic transit Gloria Kramer". Leaving Venus and Rodney together. She promises him that he will never be alone again. Venus is trying to choose Rodney’s neck-tie’s for him. She is clearly deeply in love with him. As he exits into the next room to fetch another tie she sings That’s Him. For someone with such a powerful voice it is amazing how sweetly she can sing. She sang the song with convincing feeling, as though she really means it.
Rodney returns, and proceeds to rave about how wonderful it will be when they are married with children (2 sets of twins), and living in Ozone Heights. Venus begins to see that the kind of life Rodney envisages is rather dull, predictable and quite frankly boring, when you sign the lease, you get "a years subscription to The Reader’s Digest"! She is unsure whether she will be the right kind of wife for Rodney, would this life suit her? She imagines what it will be like in the Venus In Ozone Height’s Ballet. The bulk of this number took the form of a mime, rather than a dance, performed by our leading lady alone on the stage. In the mime she is a harassed housewife, whose: cooking, sweeping, and sewing is frequently interrupted by having to rock the children to sleep. Naturally, she mimed the sewing, at least, left-handed. Louise Gold proves to be excellent at miming. She is very good at using her body (especially her face and hands) to convey her character’s activities, personality and feelings. I have only come across one other actor who is quite as effective as Louise Gold in their use of body language. At the conclusion of her mime Venus stands still on the stage, perhaps a little despairingly. On come the Dancers, from The Central School Of Ballet, and here something of a surprise, for as soon as they entered one strong male dancer (possibly Richard Winsor) walked up behind Louise Gold, and picked her up!, going down on one knee as he did so. He continued to hold the 5ft9" tall leading lady, at an angle, such that her head was away from him to his left, for what seemed like several minutes, before releasing her onto her feet. The number concluded with the dancers dancing Egyptian style around the stage.
The final scene was once again in the Art gallery, with Zuveti threatening Savoury, Zuveti’s assistants enter with Rodney, who they found alone. Savoury merely stole the goddess, Rodney has sullied her, and the thugs begin to pin his arms. Suddenly there is a crash of music, what on earth has happened? All of a sudden the thugs have disappeared and the statue has returned to its place in the gallery. Molly enters asking "Can’t a girl even take a bath without being struck in the tub by lightening?" When she seeing what has happed she is however, the least surprised. Savoury makes it up with Rodney saying "Now you’re going to drink a bottle of Brandy while I eat crow." Rodney is left alone on the stage, wondering why The Goddess has left him, he reprises a sad Speak Low, which made us miss The Goddess too. At the conclusion of his song a girl enters looking like..., well like Louise Gold! (in the original script it says the "girl looked like Mary Martin", while I have heard a radio narrator or reviewer describe the girl as "looking like Paige O’Hara", so in this production it has to be said she "looks like Louise Gold.", though I noticed that unlike the original production, where Mary put on flat shows for this part, Louise retained her high heels. I felt it would have been appropriate for her to take her shoes off for this scene, however, this is a concert staging, so costume doesn’t really come into it). She asks "Could you tell me where I register for the Art class?" Rodney looks at her in amazement "Where did you come from?" "Ozone Heights" she replies, when asked if she likes it she says "Oh I wouldn’t think of living any place else". Rodney introduces himself, and without letting her speak, he exits with his true love.
The whole show was absolutely terrific, I think it is quite possibly the very best Lost Musicals production I have seen since they did Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I say this because everything about it was absolutely wonderful: The music by Kurt Weill (whose centenary it is) was very nicely played by The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Kevin Amos. The lyrics and script by Ogden Nash was absolutely outstanding! It was a wonderful occasion to see Agnes de Mille’s original dances reconstructed by Antonio Castilla and Tim Almass and danced by The Central School Of Ballet Dancers: Genevive de Campes, Madeliene Greville-Harris, Nicola Ruth, Claire Meehan, Hikota Taira, Sarah Reynolds, Yuiko Yoshida (Principle Dancer), Ben Weeratunge, Poppy Ben-David, David Johnson, Robin Gladwin, Richard Winsor (Principle Dancer), Benny Maslov, Denise Ruddock and Martin Bell. Above all the whole company put it across with such verve, spirit and enthusiasm. Their enthusiasm for the show is perhaps characterised by the fact that two of them: Louise Gold and Lori Haley Fox are currently appearing in the West End in Mamma Mia, and so used their holiday time to appear in One Touch Of Venus.
Of the acting company itself, it was great to see so many of the Discovering Lost Musicals regulars in the show: What a special occasion to see Dick Vosburgh actually performing, and in the role he probably did in the radio version. Having heard her play it on the radio, how nice to see the Lost Musicals most frequent performer, Myra Sands, who seems perhaps not surprisingly very at home in the role, playing Mrs Kramer, the sort of annoying-the-leads character that she has a flair for portraying. It also was nice to see her playing a significant role to an appreciative audience. Last time she had a good role in a stage show was last summer in The Villain’s Opera (I actually thought that show, and Myra’s part in it rather good fun. Unfortunately that opinion does not seem to have been widely shared by the theatre-going public). Some 5 years after Something For The Boys it was a treat to see Jessica Martin and Louise Gold once again in Lost Musical together. After Kim Criswell’s stellar performance in the Radio version, was a tough act to follow, especially with a rather overshadowing leading lady around. But, once again playing a role originally written for Paula Lawrence, Jessica Martin rose to the challenge, and proved herself to be more than capable of making the part her own, in particular, the Very, Very, Very number. Ethan Freeman also had a tough act to follow, and he in the role of Whitlaw Savoury he proved to be a worthy successor to Peter Gale.
Above all, what delightfully unexpected thrill to see Louise Gold again play the title role in Ian Marshall-Fisher’s Lost Musicals production. Tall, beautiful and majestic in her movement she cuts an imposing figure that seems suitable for a Goddess. Her singing voice is wide-ranging, but particularly suited to this type of Musical-Theatre, where her genuine appreciation for the material is much apparent. She has a winning way with speaking lines convincingly, a true flair for comedy, and a disarmingly subtle way of handling double entendre. As the leading lady she shone as brightly as her name. Some might say a little too brightly, for, at times, she seemed to overshadow her co-stars, especially, Michael Cantwell and Jessica Martin (at least Jessica made an effort not to get too overshadowed, thus her talent was still apparent). Paige O’Hara’s performance in the radio version is a fine one, which might be considered definitive, yet Louise proved to be more than capable of making the character entirely her own. Louise Gold commanded that stage the way she has many a time in the Lost Musicals, but sadly has had all too few opportunity’s to really do so in her other stage work. It is sad that she is so often relegated to playing a supporting role, and unwittingly, upstaging the lead, when she is so capable of leading herself.