Review: Promises, Promises at Southwark Playhouse until 18th February

Promises, Promises


Promises, Promises the hit Broadway musical based on the multi Oscar-winning 1960 film The Apartment, with music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David and book by Neil Simon, has opened its doors for the first time in London since its 1969 West End premiere. Promises, Promises, is about a junior executive (Gabriel Vick) at an insurance company who sets out to climb the corporate ladder by allowing his apartment to be used by his married superiors for extra marital affairs.

The staging immediately conjures up an authentic swinging  ’60’s feel, and oozes sophistication and chic. Vick in my mind was a perfect choice for the role, particularly when he breaks from proceedings and addresses the audience following an insight into his imagination. It reminded me of a Walter Mitty moment and made me smile. The powerful force of Daisy Maywood vocally was enjoyable, and took me by surprise.

Photos by Claire Bilyard

The music was typical Bacharach and one can’t but help to wallow in its magnificence of structure perfectly executed by the musicians. Some may say a little dated I prefer an appreciation of age. Accompanied by effective and slickly sharp choreography by Cressida Carré and brilliantly directed by Bronagh Lagan. Particular musical highlights for me were the title number and of course I’ll never Fall In Love Again.

I did have a couple of niggles namely the length, which was not aided by the late start and the moments lacking pace.

Photos by Claire Bilyard

Whilst as mentioned the two leads were superb, there were several other stand out performances which led to my enjoyment. Craig Armstrong (Eichelberger), Ralph Bogard (Vanderhof), Martin Dickinson (Kirkeby) and Lee Ormsby (Dobitch). These four philanderer’s gave added joy to the piece, raising a smile by their comedy, vocals and strong acting. The real delight though, for me was, Alex Young as Marge opening the second act. Her spot on delivery and comic timing sheer brilliance personified, as was John Guerrasio’s performance as Dr. Dreyfuss.

It was nice to see something different to a classic musical production, a show which did deliver its Promises, Promises and made for an excellent evenings entertainment.

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