Theatre review: Do I hear a waltz? at the Park Theatre

Rebecca Seale, Rebecca Moon, Matthew Kellett, Bruce Graham, Victoria Ward

Rebecca Seale, Rebecca Moon, Matthew Kellett, Bruce Graham, Victoria Ward - Credit: Archant

Out razzle-dazzled on release in 1965 by Hello, Dolly! and Fiddler on the Roof, Do I Hear a Waltz? had a short run on Broadway and lyricist Stephen Sondheim later declared it the project he most regretted.

But what it lacks in polish it makes up for in raw charm and the intimate setting of the spanking new Park Theatre provides the perfect backdrop for this overdue revival.

Leona (Rebecca Seale), a sparky secretary in her early thirties is holidaying alone in Venice. Blown out by her fellow Americans and hotel guests, despite plying them with Martini, she falls in love with a married shopkeeper, Renato di Rossi (Philip Lee), and a rather nice eighteenth century goblet. Meanwhile the cracks are showing in Eddie and Jennifer’s Yaegar’s marriage, and, capitalising on the rift, hotel owner, Fioria, a lascivious Italian, played with fingerlicking relish by Rosie Strobel, works her pencil skirt in the young husband’s direction.

The loose morals of the Italians, particularly in gondolas after nightfall, and the puritanical tendencies of the Americans punctuate the script. And yet the characters are interesting enough to side step stereotype and the acidly witty dialogue had the audience laughing along.

There are some memorable numbers: the title tune and “Moon In The Window.”

And a highlight was Renato hamming it up in his operatic take on “Stay,” our anti-hero’s plea to Leona to remain with him in Italy:

“I am not the dream come true not perfection nor are you but stay.” What woman could resist? Leona, who has more pluck than romantic luck, must decide…

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The Charles Court Theatre Company will now surely become known for bijou musicals as well as boutique pantomimes. Entertaining, accomplished and a teeny bit naughty.