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A CurtainUp London Review
Death Takes A Holiday
"If Grazia had been killed, it would have put a terrible dampner on her wedding plans."—Carrado
Death Takes A Holiday
Zoe Doano as Grazia and Chris Peluso as Death (Photo: Scott Rylander)
It is wildly romantic, this small scale musical about a girl rescued from a car crash where she would almost certainly have died. Grazia Lamberti (Zoe Doano) is so beautiful that the figure of Death (Chris Peluso) is persuaded to give up his day job escorting the dying to the underworld or heaven, for a weekend, in order to further his relationship with her.

It is a kind of spin on Phantom of the Opera except that here Death is able to masquerade as a handsome and influential Russian, and recently deceased, prince, Nicolai Sirki. But one member of the house party in Duke Vittorio Lamberti's (Mark Inscoe) country villa had come close to Death when Grazia's brother, a pilot, was killed and so might recognise and unmask him.

The plot centres on the vagaries of Grazia's love life as she breaks off her engagement to Corrado Danielli (Ashley Stillburn) and falls for the make believe Russian prince. Together Grazia and Sirki embark on some beautiful semi-operatic arias and dance divinely. The outstanding choreography is when this couple trip the light fantastic. But there are also jaunty numbers from the supporting cast; for instance, when the prestigious princely guest is welcomed or when the American girls show us we are in the Jazz Age. Grazia's father and his major domo Fidele (James Gant) are the only two who know Sirki's real identity and are terrified that he will takes the lives of the whole household if they betray his secret.

Thom Southerland is again showing his ability to stage a lesser known musical and achieve a pretty show, beautifully lit and dressed with its set in a villa of grey stone arches with architectural detailing. The music can undoubtedly fix in your memory after a couple of hearings but I had problems accepting the unlikely story line. I think that in all probability Southerland is giving this musical its best possible production but I think one needs to hear the music a few more times to really appreciate it.

Chris Peluso and Zoe Doano are excellent singers and the supporting cast are strong. However, I was left wondering what Grazia's life would really be like as she escorts Death around the world.

I very much agree with Simon Saltzman's review of the Roundabout production in New York in 2011 and direct you to the link to his review with full plot details and song list here.

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Death Takes A Holiday
Music and Lyrics: Maury Yeston
Book by Thomas Meehan and Peter Stone
Directed by Thom Southerland
Starring: Zoe Doano, Chros Peluso, Gay Soper
With: James Gant, Ashley Stillburn, Kathryn Akin, Mark Inscoe, Scarlett Courtney, Matthew McDonald, Helen Turner, Ken Christiansen, Sophie May Feek, Trudi Camillleri, Anthony Cable, Samuel Thomas
Set Design: Morgan Large
Costume Design: Jonathan Lipman
Choreographer: Sam Spencer Lane
Orchestrator: Larry Hochman
Musical Director: Dean Austin
Lighting Design: Matt Dow
Sound Design: Andrew Johnson
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval minutes
Box Office: 08444930650
Booking to 4th March 2017
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 23rd January 2016 performance at The Charing Cross Theatre, The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL
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