The late Jack Rosenthal (he died in 2004) scored a major hit with his 1976 TV play Bar Mitzvah Boy.
Turning it into a musical proved less fortuitous, but the experience provided the basis for this insubstantial 1981 comedy which itself never made it into the West End.
With additional material from his daughter Amy, this slight revival has, at least, an eye-catching performance from Tom Conti who plays impresario Theo with a Mittel European accent and a playful comic charm.
With a pot of his money at stake, Theo has his work cut out keeping the peace between the members of the creative team – novice English playwright Liz from Wimbledon, fading into the background British lyricist Mike, and the Americans with their outsize egos (posturing director Stacey with his statement scarves and The West Wing’s Richard Schiff as condescending composer Bebe with, as he keeps on reminding everybody, twenty-eight Broadway shows under his belt).
Rosenthal captures the stress of constant rewrites as (with opening night approaching) Liz litters her hotel room with pages of script changes, and fluctuating directorial decisions push them all to the limit as her original story of G.I. brides is pummelled into some sort of acceptable musical shape.
But though mildly enjoyable, this is a lightweight piece, neither as funny nor as sharp as it should be, and relying too much on the goodwill of an audience faithful to Rosenthal’s memory and susceptible to the twinkle in Conti’s eye.
Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU
Tube: London Bridge
020 7907 7060
Until 8th May
£29.50 & Meal Deals available £37.00
– Louise Kingsley