Review by David Munro
THE Landor Theatre celebrates its tenth year
of presenting great shows in difficult circumstances with A
Over the years, my predecessor, Paul
Nelson has extolled the quality of their productions and the
abilities of their directors, Linda Edwards and Robert McWhir,
to bring glamour talent and expertise onto a pocket- handkerchief
I have accompanied him to many of these productions as a member
of the public and, like him, have wondered at how efficient these
It is true, other companies and other directors have been represented
over the years, but Robert and Linda were the hard core of steel
which kept the theatre going and ensured that the standards of
quality and taste which they instituted were adhered to.
Linda has now moved on and the burden of succession has fallen
fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Robert McWhir, who shows
with this production of A Class Act that he is a worthy
successor to Linda and if he keeps up the quality of production,
as was shown last night, will surpass her in his achievements.
The Landor is only a few stops on the Northern line from Leicester
Square, and I would strongly advise you to buy a ticket and venture
down to Clapham North, for this production is as good as you will
get anywhere in the West End, or dare I say it, Broadway, on or
The show was originally devised by two friends of the unsuccessful
songwriter and musical comedy composer, Edward Klaban, whose only
claim to fame was the fact that he wrote the lyrics for A
I had not realised until last night
what an accomplished composer he was and why his friends felt
that his memory should be perpetuated in a retrospective of his
What they devised was a whistle stop tour of his life and frustrations
showcasing his songs using them to illustrate the various aspects
of his life.
It is a small show and perfect for a theatre like the Landor.
More than that, however, Robert Mc Whir has assembled a cast who
sing and dance with charm and aplomb, and make this tribute to
an unknown, a positive joy in its own right.
Anthony Houghton brings just the right touch of arrogance and
despair to the part of Ed Klaban apart from which he is no mean
performer when it comes to a song and dance.
As his friends, lovers and collaborators, Vanessa Karlsson, John
Stacey, Sarah Wadell, Barry Fantoni, Morgan Williams, Zoe Smith
and Naomi Lewis act, sing and dance up a storm, and without losing
their individual personalities act as perfect background chorus
to his undeserved failure.
Some of the credit is due to the simple but effective choreography
of Cathie Carday, which displays the talents of her cast and is
well suited to the limitations of the stage on which they have
This show deserves to be seen by a greater audience than it will
attract in Clapham. It is tuneful, performed with zest and leaves
you, to quote one of its numbers, wanting 'One more beautiful
Thank you, Robert and your cast, for a great evening of theatre
and I await, salivating, for your next opus, although I doubt
whether you will top this.
I may live to eat these words – I hope so !
A Class Act, by Linda Kline and Lonny Price.
Lyrics and Music by Edward Klaban (and Marvin Hamlisch); Directed
by Robert McWhir; Choreographer, Cathie Carday; Lighting, Richard
Lambert; Costumes, Paul Tate; Musical Director, David Randall.
CAST: Vanessa Karlsson; John Stacey; Anthony Houghton; Sarah Wadell;
Barry Fantoni; Morgan Williams; Zoe Smith; Naomi Lewis.
Presented by Robert McWhir for The Landor Theatre.
Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, Clapham.
Sept 6 – Oct 2, Oct 2004
Tuesday to Saturday 7.30pm
Box Office: 020 7737 7276