In the interests of transparency or whatever, I should perhaps point out that The Kissing-Dance was AD'd and cast by my Twitter friend @josh_sey which is the reason I booked for today's matinee (I hadn't originally planned to go, not having been as impressed by composer Howard Goodall's Love Story as many people were.) This hasn't, to be honest, converted me to his musicals although at least it's a lighter affair, being based on the Restoration comedy She Stoops To Conquer and concerning lots of would-be couples running around confusing each other and trying to elope; and therefore not featuring a young girl WHO IS DEAD.
Lotte Wakeham has transposed the action to Edwardian times, which for the most part works (a couple of moments don't - a 20th Century woman in Mrs Hardcastle's position never having been to London seems a bit less likely than it might have done for her Restoration equivalent.) I found the show took some time to get going but did so around "Nonesuch," and in the second act the title song was the strongest for me. Wakeham's gone for an actor-musician approach although for the most part the orchestration is all piano, other instruments are largely used for comic effect. Nice-voiced Gina Beck and Gemma Sutton are the two girls intent on choosing their own husbands, and while for the most part the show is simply pleasant it occasionally springs into brief, vibrant life - usually thanks to Beverley Klein's invariably scene-stealing Mrs Hardcastle, who also gets Charles Hart's funniest lyric (although it's not so much her unexpected swearing as the other characters' response to it that makes it.) Ian Virgo also gets a couple of these lively moments although I did wish there were rather more of them, it felt like the story could have been something riotous that never really loosened up enough.
The Kissing-Dance by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart is booking until the 23rd of April at the Jermyn Street Theatre.