It is one thing to laugh along with a production, and in some cases, this one-off concert version of Zorro The Musical provides some opportunities to do just that. When Ramon (Robert Tripolino) goes to confession regarding his relations with his father Alejandro (Zubin Varla), he’s duly informed it is customary to address the person being confessed to as ‘Father’: but when he speaking about his own father, and when the priest calls him ‘my son’, who are they really talking about? But there are also times when I found myself laugh at this production. For all the talent on stage (and looking at the cast biographies in the concert’s programme, it is considerable to say the least), a fair few of them came across as simply trying too hard, which somewhat took away from the enjoyment of a technically skilled performance.
Zorro, for people like me who only really get introduced to famed fictional characters on seeing a stage adaptation of an otherwise well-known story, has been portrayed by, amongst many others, Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas. He is really Don Diego de la Vega (in this production, Ricardo Afonso, who sang so beautifully he gained a mid-show standing ovation from certain members of the audience). Diego – as I understand it – is the heir to the vast lands owned by Don Alejandro. In this version, however, Don Alejandro is instead some kind of unelected and supreme ruler of a section of California (nope, I have no idea how that works in the ‘land of the free’ either). He puts on an elaborate disguise – which wasn’t very elaborate at all in this concert version, frustratingly – in order to try to stop the tyrannical regime run by Ramon, who has succeeded his father, not exactly legitimately.
Aside from Afonso, who is from Portugal, Lesli Margherita (playing a gypsy, Inez) from the United States and Tripolino, from Australia, this is largely a bunch of British actors, who, to be frank, fail to convince as being of Spanish or Latino heritage. At least Emma Williams’ Luisa doesn’t even attempt an accent, delivering her lines in stage school style British English. Fair play to her on that, and on some spine-tingling performances in ‘Falling’ in the first half and ‘Man Behind The Mask’ in the second.
Fifteen actors comprised the LMTO Chorus (in the order given in the programme, Catalina Amaral, Charlotte Clitherow, Daniel Amity, James Leeman, Joe Thompson-Oubari, Justine Saville, Mia Michaud, Richard Upton, Richard James-King, Danny Lane, Enrico Volpi, Grace Mouat, Lauren Lockley, Margarida Silva, Matthew McDonald), with the London Musical Theatre Orchestra itself, as ever under the baton of Freddie Tapner, reduced from its usual twenty-something to ten – somebody somewhere decided violins and cellos (and so on) were completely superfluous to this concert. The children’s cast – Young Ramon (Tahj Kerr), Young Diego (Devon Francis) and Young Luisa (Caterina Bargioni) did brilliantly.
Overall, though, this felt like a production put on by the BBC. I simply didn’t feel like I had been transported to a place filled with Spanish characters. Perhaps the concert format didn’t help, but there was relatively little dancing (given the style of the music of The Gypsy Kings, who perform in Spanish) going on. Most of it happened, to be honest, in the encore, post curtain-call. Perhaps it is just one of those shows that needs to be done as a full production to be properly appreciated for what it is. Some tremendous singing voices though.
London lad, loving life and all that it has to offer.