There are plenty of older productions that are still beloved by theatre lovers. Cats, Top Hat and The Mousetrap are just a few that are as magical several decades after they were first seen on the West End. Others don’t.
Sadly Finian’s Rainbow (first performed on Broadway in 1947) is of the latter group. A leprechaun is stolen away and brought from Ireland to the United States by a man and his granddaughter. This leprechaun gradually becomes mortal and falls in love with a girl who cannot talk, but speaks through the power of dance.
The story probably intends to bring the mysticism of Ireland to the stage, but it’s not successful and is actually described by the director (Phil Willmott) as being quite a racist musical. Personally I didn’t find it racist, just old-fashioned, confusing and without purpose. Quite frankly, it’s ridiculous.
Although the music reminds me in places of Gilbert and Sullivan (Something Sort of Grandish sounds very like Oncely, Twicely), it all blends together; not one song in this production is memorable and the script is laughable.
The saddest thing about this production is that the cast are (for the most part) extremely talented. Yet no matter who was cast in this production, it would still be a poor excuse for a musical. Christina Bennington (Sharon) is a very talented singer and actress, but even she cannot save this production from itself.
Abigail Carter-Simpson, who was one of the original cast of Ushers, somehow manages to stand out, despite being confined to the chorus and the ‘gospelers’ (Marcia Lorenzo, Anne Odeke and Cerise Reid) are fantastic.
Laura Bella Griffin (Susan) is quite sweet as the mute girl, although it’s unclear how her dancing can be interpreted in line with the script. Still, she performs it well and the rest of Thomas Michael Voss’s choreography is equally as well done.
Although the cast should be commended for how much energy they have put into this production, Finian’s Rainbow will sadly always be let down by its story.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes
Finian’s Rainbow plays at the Charing Cross Theatre until 30 April 2014.