Rebecca the Musical
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Charing Cross Theatre, London
Cast: Lauren Jones, Richard Carson and Kara Lane

Rebecca, with 22 original songs, is a gripping thriller full of intrigue and surprises that sticks closely to the original novel. Wealthy Maxim De Winter brings his naïve new wife home to his Cornish estate, Manderley, where the manipulative housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, resents the new wife’s intrusion. She persuades her that she is an unworthy replacement for the first Mrs. De Winter, the glamorous and mysterious Rebecca, who perished in a drowning accident, with tragic results...

Rebecca is described as a gothic thriller full of surprises from the original 1938 novel by English author, Daphne du Maurier, following an unnamed young woman who meets and marries a wealthy widower. The show is an English translation by Christopher Hampton (two-time Tony Award winner Best Score & Best Book for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ & ‘The Father’) and Michael Kunze.

As a book lover and having read Daphne du Maurier’s classic novel known as ‘Rebecca’ and as a theatre lover I have to say that this musical adaptation of the novel is absolutely spectacular! It has to be one of the best musicals I have seen of late, as the casting of the show is fantastic. Every voice melds perfectly, and the cast have some of the best on stage chemistry I have seen for a long time.

I believe that the three principal actors in the show, Lauren Jones as I/Second Mrs de Winter, Richard Carson as Maxim de Winter and Kara Lane as Mrs Danvers, are an ideal fit for each of their roles, freshly adding their own style to their characters in the way they deem fit.

The Charing Cross Theatre is a very small West End venue with only 263 seats in house which makes it, in my opinion, the most fitting venue for ‘Rebecca’, as it makes the show feel more intimate, which is needed for a show like this. They use the space they do have effectively, such as using the middle and side aisles; this also helps to make it feel immersive.

I really enjoyed the way they incorporated the ensemble moving the set pieces into parts of the show, rather than them just changing the scene (much like Witness for the Prosecution). They also address the audience at times whilst doing this, which almost makes it feel interactive at times. At parts, it feels as though you're part of the show, rather than watching one. For example, the show starts and ends with ‘Last Night I Dreamt of Manderley’ and the reprise feels as though you're receiving a recap from a friend

Throughout the whole show, the music has a very dramatic style that gives a very similar feel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, "Phantom of The Opera", which is perfect for the storyline as it is also a member of the gothic thriller genre

As the show goes on you can feel adjustments in the music as to how the characters are feeling; in particular the shift when major change occurs. For example, when Mrs de Winter has a change of heart after moments shared with Maxim and new information has come to light; this happens in the scene and song prior to a pre-released song from the production called “Mrs de Winter is Me!”. 

However, when it comes to the wonderful operatic style of the score there is one song that really does stick out, but not in a bad way. The song that Mr Jack Favell (portrayed by Alex James-Ward) sings in Act Two being called “I’ll Scratch Your Back” is enjoyable as it brings light comedy to a dark storyline.

If you do end up seeing this magnificent piece of work a warning that it contains strong haze and lighting. As they say “weather depicts emotions” and the use of pathetic fallacy to describe the mood, with the rain, the fog and fire etc., really does keep you engaged.

Lauren Jones shines in the role as I/Second Mrs de Winter as she leaves behind her previous role in Bonnie & Clyde to take on a full-time lead. Her innocence is shown strongly at the beginning, but her character has the biggest arc, with some of the most powerful songs to show off her insane talent. 

Richard Carson perfectly captures Maxim de Winter's emotions through his voice and body language and Kara Lane embodies the role of Mrs Danvers in a way that draws you into the character. Her upright and stiff body language, along with her sublime vocal range makes her the ideal for the role. She really gets to shine when she sings her ‘Rebecca’ and the reprises.

Is it worth going to see? Absolutely. Will everyone enjoy it as much as I have? I'm not sure. However, I'd highly recommend checking it out while it is still here. It's a limited run, so get your tickets to see ‘Rebecca’ before 18th November 2023!

You can catch Rebecca at the Charing Cross Theatre until 18th November, here.

Written by Emma Hartley. Photo credit to Mark Senior.

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