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Theatre Review: The Route to Happiness - Landor Theatre ✭✭✭


The Route to Happiness 
Landor Theatre

Review by Claire Spence

Tuesday 19th February: Three simple and symbolic pieces of furniture depict the locations of the three Londoners in this present-day musical: centre-stage stands a busy computer desk belonging to ambitious, but direction-lacking Marcus (Niall Sheeny – ITV’s Superstar, Spamalot, Wicked); stage left is a sofa strewn with gossip mags belonging to lonely, lovelorn Lorna (Shona White – Chess, Les Miserables, Wicked); and stage right is a dressing table belonging to the fame-hungry Trinity (Cassidy Janson – Lend Me a Tenor, Avenue Q, Wicked). Each character depicts their sorrow and ambitions as they strive for their route to happiness, singing songs such as, ‘A Man In Mind’, ‘I Want It All’ and ‘Somehow I’ll Be Famous’ and are dismayed as they hear of the successes of their siblings and friends. ‘A Fateful Meeting’ at a wedding inadvertently interweaves the three characters to a seemingly triumphant effect. Yet, they discover that once you achieve all your heart’s desires will it be happily ever after?

Act One has a marvellous range of melodies suiting Marcus’ complex dissonant tones sang effectively by Sheeny, Lorna’s melodic, musical theatre style sang with integrity by White, and Trinity’s contemporary pop sound sang with gusto by Janson and if the show ended at the interval I would have happily given The Route to Happiness 5 stars. However, Act Two’s discordant melodies, reflecting the breakdown in lives of the three, were sometimes jarring to listen to and if the director wanted to portray the characters anger, irritations and frustrations, it certainly worked. Yet, Marcus and Trinity’s duet, ‘Plan B’ was a treat; with the failure of Plan A the two desperately try to manifest a Plan B, C and D with Janson performing a hilarious rap to perfection. I can’t fault any of the actors’ performances, although the resolution of the story was slightly unsatisfying for my liking. Although the direction from Robert McWhir did satisfy nicely incorporating the designated areas in particular in Trinity's 'Next!' where each area became another audition room. The lighting arrangements were precise for the space and the Landor Theatre is a great pub theatre venue with great acoustics and a nice acting area and was perfect for this 3-hander.

Composer, Lyricist and Musical Director Alexander S. Bermange has a nice musical on his hands with some modern great and comic lyrics, which Bermange is well-known for, even referencing Primark! But, at times the overlapping of voices meant some of these great lyrics could not be heard and I feel as though a few songs could be removed to just make a longer one act musical. But, it is also lovely to hear live music with Bermange on piano and Justin Homewood on Bass and the three singers received a hearty ovation for their efforts. Bermange’s intention is to leave you moved, amused and possibly questioning your own desires, and he does just that.

3 stars ✭✭✭

The Route To Happiness runs from Tuesday 19th to Sunday 24th February (Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Sunday at 2.30pm) at the Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, London SW9 9PH. 

Tickets are available by calling 020 7737 7276 or visiting www.bermange.co.uk.

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