Mrs Henderson Presents – Noel Coward Theatre, London

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Based on the 2005 film starring Dame Judi Dench and the late Bob Hoskins, this stage adaptation of Mrs Henderson Presents marks the return of Olivier Award winner and theatrical icon, Tracie Bennett.

Mrs Henderson Presents is based on a true story about The Windmill Theatre in Soho, before and during World War II. Rich widow Laura Henderson is fighting to stop the cinema from an early close and attempts to bring it into life once again. She employs the services of a Jewish theatre manager, Vivian Van Damm (Graham Vick) and they form a very interesting business relationship.

The Windmill decides to put on a show entitled “Revudeville”, but this quickly hits hard times until Mrs Henderson recalls a visit to the Moulin Rouge and quite literally has a lightbulb moment on stage. Mrs Henderson decides to hold Britain’s first nude revue, in the hopes of keeping the theatre open.

Emma Williams (Maureen) and Matthew Malthouse (Eddie) battle with their true love for each other and it isn’t until Eddie goes to war and a series of unfortunate events occur, we see a touching performance from Williams and we see the difficult effects of war. There are many great songs throughout the show, my favourite sung by Williams is “If Mountains Were Easy To Climb”.

With the show featuring a story about a nude revue, there are a number of naked females on stage during the show. It isn’t until they get the men on stage to take their clothes off that the girls agree to go nude. This was a liberating performance to watch.

Unfortunately Arthur (Jamie Foreman) continually shares jokes with the audience throughout the show and felt like he was buying time to move into the next scene. Some of the jokes were dry and humourless, so this was distracting at times and not necessary.

Samuel Holmes (Bertie) plays a token gay male character, and at times is overly effeminate, I assume in order to build and create more humour and conversation. Whereas in the film, Bertie was played by Will Young who just so happened to be a polite man who also happened to be gay.

This was a delightful show to watch and it has been a long awaited musical the West End has needed. It’s a great shame to see it ending so soon despite it’s short run in the West End but I’m pleased that it made it’s presence known and certainly makes you proud to be British!

3.5-star

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