Mrs Henderson Presents
Cheeky British musical bares all at the Royal Alex
Presented by David Mirvish
Book by Terry Johnson
Lyrics by Don Black
Music by George Fenton & Simon Chamberlain
Based on the motion picture Mrs Henderson Presents
This season, Mirvish brings the hit West End musical Mrs Henderson Presents to the Royal Alexandra Theatre for its Canadian premiere. Based on the true story of an eccentric British socialite who invested her money to create the Windmill Theatre in London during World War II, this risqué production boasts a talented cast, captivating music and a tasteful smattering of nudity.
The musical opens in 1937 as 70-year-old widow Mrs Laura Henderson (Tracie Bennett) partners with manager Vivian Van Damm (Peter Polycarpou) to launch a variety revue called "Revudeville." When the theatre starts losing money Mrs Henderson suggests they add female nudity, similar to the Moulin Rouge in Paris, which is unprecedented in the UK. In the entertaining "Lord Chamberlain's Song," Mrs Henderson and Vivian pay a visit to Lord Cromer (Simon Green) and persuade him to approve of their plan under the condition that the nude performers remain immobile, like statues in museums. He eventually agrees. Later, they convince a number of former Windmill Girls, including Peggy (Tricia Adele Turner), Doris (Kimberly Powell), Vera (Jennifer Huxley-Golden), and a shy/pragmatic assistant Maureen (Evelyn Hoskins) to reveal all in the name of art. As expected, the nude shows attract big crowds and a new type of performance is born.
The second act of Mrs Henderson Presents takes place during the war and the tone shifts dramatically as the Windmill and its occupants are shaken by the bombing of London. At the centre of the narrative is the relationship between Maureen and a young stage hand, Eddie (Matthew Malthouse), who leaves the theatre to join the war. After nearly giving up hope, Maureen, Mrs Henderson and Vivian resolve to keep the Windmill's doors open, offering complimentary seats to soldiers as they proudly stand up for freedom despite the tragedies unfolding across Europe.
Featuring rich set and costume design, witty lyrics and exuberant performances by a talented ensemble, including the hackneyed emcee Frank (Alexander Delamere), Mrs Henderson Presents is a memorable theatre experience with a triumphant message. Hoskins stands out as Maureen, bringing the house down with powerful songs such as "Ordinary Girl" and "If Mountains Were Easy to Climb," and Bennett radiates infectious energy as the spirited matriach Mrs Henderson.
Don't miss this thoroughly enjoyable production. Mrs Henderson Presents runs until April 23, 2017 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. Visit Mirvish.com for more information and to buy tickets.