Paradise Found – Menier Chocolate Factory

After watching or should that be enduring Paradise Found there is one question that just screams at you; WHY?

On paper it all looks so good, take Broadway Directing Royalty Hal Prince and Susan Stroman; add in some Broadway musical theatre legends and stage the show at the hit factory that is the Menier and surely you must have the next big thing?

Wrong – what you get is a flop that makes your average Thanksgiving turkey look like a quail.

The plot is paper thin, the Shah of Persia and his Eunuch travel to Vienna in search of love. Set that paper thin plot against the music of Johan Strauss II and that’s about it. The music is the first of many problems –it just doesn’t provide any variety or dramatic drive, snatches of the Blue Danube float in and out but after two and a half hours of various waltzes they all begin to merge into one.

Perhaps it could be saved by a decent story but Richard Nelson’s tedious book and Ellen Fitzhugh’s dire lyrics, “please continue while I praise your sinew”, drag the piece down.

Broadway legends Shuler Hensley, Mandy Patinkin and Judy Kaye try their best with the dire material but all you feel is sympathy for the performers trying to make this tosh work.

Co directors Hal Prince and Susan Stroman have won a barrow load of Tony Awards between them but for this effort are in serious danger of collecting nothing but scorn from the audience who endure this disaster.

About a quarter of the audience walked at the interval and perhaps they were the most sensible. The Menier has had a string of smash hits recently but this mess will surely damage their fire proof reputation.

During the finale Mandy Patinkin sings ‘we are part of a failed experiment’ – I couldn’t put it better myself.

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