Can Can! The New Offenbach Musical | Union Theatre | Review

France has come to London in this frivolous and funny musical. We are transported back to the 1890s in Paris, when the ladies of Moulin Rouge scandalised the city. The dresses are bigger, the busts are bustier and the characters are larger than life.

A forbidden love blossoms between Christian Bontoux, the gentlemen (Damjan Mrackovich) and Jane Avril the Can-Can dancer, (Kathy Peacock), and in true Romeo and Juliet fashion they are torn apart by Christian’s father, Monsieur Bontoux (Phil Willmott), dramatically, only to reunite at the end, thankfully, alive.

Kasey Claybourn (Colette), Emily Barnett-Salter (Yvette) and PK Taylor (La Goulue) by Scott Rylander.
Kasey Claybourn (Colette), Emily Barnett-Salter (Yvette) and PK Taylor (La Goulue) by Scott Rylander.

Mrackovich and Peacock display an exceptional range of skills; Peacock has a clear, high singing range, and the two show great contemporary dance skills as they perform a beautiful interpretive dance displaying their longing for each other.

Comedic relief was offered at the hands of PK Taylor, playing La Goulue, and Emily Barnett-Salter playing Yvette. The two portray sassy and vulgar comediennes and dancers, with great characterisation, energy and comedic timing. La Goulue also divulges of a fabulous plot twist starring Monsieur Bontoux.

Though not the largest stage, it was ample for the production, and the set design was cleverly worked out by Justin Williams and Jonny Rust. Utilising a moveable set piece, it gave the audience the feeling of being both audience member and backstage while bringing to life every setting presented. Impressive was also the choreography, by Adam Haigh, who not only choreographed beautiful duets but also imaginative dance numbers involving the whole cast, executed with exceptional timing. There were moments I sat at the edge of my seat expecting a few bumps, but everything was performed with ease.

This is a show that will have you applauding for more, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Richard Baker’s musical arrangements and sound design was fantastic and catchy. This is not a show you want to miss.

5 Stars

Review by Olivia Jannesson

A fun and frivolous new musical featuring the larger than life performers of the Moulin Rouge who scandalised Paris in the 1890s. The newly arranged score features a treasure trove of gorgeous operetta melodies by Offenbach, Lehár and others culminating in the famous Can-Can itself.

Setting: France, 1890s

CAST: Kathy Peacock, Sam Woods, Richard Harfst, PK Taylor, Mark Garfield, James Alexander-Chew, Emily Barnett-Salter, Kasey Claybourn, Sarah Kacey, Grace Manley, Corinna Marlowe, Lauren Wood, Callum Mills, Jordan Nesbitt, Phil Willmott, Damjan Mrackovich, Connor Philipson.

Director – Phil Setren
Based on a staging by Phil Willmott
Choreographer – Adam Haigh
Musical Arrangements and Sound Design – Richard Baker
Musical Director – Rosa Lennox
Assistant Director – Tolley Angell
Casting Director – Adam Braham
Set Design – Justin Williams & Jonny Rust
Lighting Design – Matthew Swithinbank
Costume Design – Penn O’Gara
Stage Manager – Toby Burbidge
Assistant Stage Manager – Kate Francis

MUSIC BY Jacques Offenbach and his contemporaries
DATES: 6th February – 9th March 2019

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