After a brief but award-winning run in 2008, the Young Vic revives its production of Street Scene, Kurt Weill's 1947 musical of Elmer Rice's 1929 play. It sounds as if the show's genesis was a fraught affair, with Rice seemingly being happy for his play to be turned into a musical if only it wasn't for all that pesky music, and claiming lyricist Langston Hughes took credit for some of his work. Things on stage are no calmer, the poor residents of a Lower East Side tenement trying to deal with hardships while gossiping about each other, and one of the local scandals is going to end in tragedy. I didn't know much about the show going in, and it turns out to be one of those operatic '40s musicals I'm not crazy about, and this wasn't the show to change my mind. I don't find the singing style the easiest to follow, and though Dick Bird's simple touring set nicely integrates the Southbank Sinfonia Touring, the acoustics aren't great and for many songs it drowns out the vocals, making it even harder to follow what's going on. A couple of songs in it gets easier though, and I knew enough about the residents to want to see how their stories panned out. Lit by Jon Clark, John Fulljames' production looks very atmospheric but only really came to life for me in Kate Nelson and John Moabi's duet near the end of the first act, the only point where choreographer Arthur Pita really gets to pull out the stops.
Street Scene by Kurt Weill, Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes is booking until the 1st of October at the Young Vic and continues on tour to Basingstoke, Edinburgh, Newport and Hull until the 15th of October.