London SE1 website team

The Cheeky Chappie at the Union Theatre

This is an excellent musical play which tells the story of the comedian Max Miller who was renowned in the 1940s and 50s as Britain’s highest paid variety artist.

The plot unfolds with a background chorus in stripy blazers and boaters; the songs resonate all evening and bring to life this time of simple technology when live theatre and wireless was the first and only choice for variety shows.

The poignant story of the rise to fame (‘Give me the Moonlight‘) of the impoverished Harry Sargeant who has a natural ‘cheeky ' sense of humour. He meets and marries Kathleen Marsh, (Jo Price) changes his name to Max Miller and makes the big time in an era of war and austerity. (‘Bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover')

Max Miller is brought to life brilliantly by Jamie Kenna, who portrays the complexities of his character with flair and sensitivity. (‘Happy Days are here again') Although a hit comedian on stage his personal life was thwarted and deeply sad. Max's wife of over forty years (‘If you were the only girl in the World') takes on the role of administrator /mother while a loyal loving woman friend, Ann Graham (Sioned Jones) (‘When you're smiling the whole world smiles with you‘) who wants to give and receive love is destined to be his supporter and confidante for over twenty years. (‘I love you just the way you look tonight')

The cast is a perfect ensemble. The costumes are authentic 40s/50s with women in stylish hats and gloves against a simple and effective set . The music, with Philip Shute on piano, and Dave Brown on double- bass is enough to change any mood of fatigue to one of life and cheer. The appreciation of the audience was much in evidence.

An impressive mix of light and serious. Go and see this production while we're lucky enough to have it with us.

• Andrew Lynford Productions with the Union Theatre, 204 Union Street
• Until 16 October 2004, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30pm

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