Mrs Henderson Presents … stark naked with gentle songs

When I went: 4 April 2016

Music Owl Hoot rating: 3/5

Location: Noel Coward Theatre, London

Performers: Tracie Bennett (Laura Henderson), Ian Bartholomew (Vivian Van Damm), Emma Williams (Maureen), Jamie Foreman (Arthur)

Creative team: George Fenton and Simon Chamberlain (music), Don Black (lyrics), Terry Johnson (book), Terry Johnson (director)

Approximate price: £100

Special points: Historical basis

Best bit: Lord Chamberlain’s Song

If I could change one thing: More killer songs

The musical:

Mrs Henderson Presents is set in World War II, and was boosted by the 2005 film starring Judi Dench and Will Young. It has a lovely timeless sense of humour and a good amount of spirit, illustrating the determination of Laura Henderson to keep the Windmill Theatre open despite the onset of war.

The characters are all extremely likeable and the writing is good, but as with Bend it like Beckham, the songs aren’t all strong enough to elevate this musical further. There are some highlights, such as the witty Lord Chamberlain’s Song, but not enough.

This performance:

Tracie Bennett brought a great blend of guts and humour to the lead role of Mrs Laura Henderson, with strong chemistry with Ian Bartholomew’s Vivian Van Damm. Emma Williams was charming as Maureen throughout and all the dancing was slick.

There were warnings with the ticket confirmations about the nudity in this performance; in 2016 nudity onstage is hardly shocking and it is genuinely done in a tasteful way in this show.

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