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After receiving rave reviews at Kilburn’s Cock Tavern, Opera Up Close has transferred its production of La Boheme to the Soho Theatre in Central London. With a new English libretto by Robin Norton-Hale, this show is contemporary and relevant while leaving Puccini’s sublime music untouched.
The Soho Theatre has a great vibe. Everyone sits on long benches that are surprisingly comfortable. Andrew Charity, musical director, plays piano (replacing the orchestra) with great gusto and an intimate knowledge of the score. The cast are strong and work well as a team. The biggest roles are quadruple cast, I saw Elinor Jane Moran as the frail Mimi: she has a sweet tone and sings well throughout, but is a very meek stage presence until the final heart-wrenching scene.
I really enjoyed watching the boisterous boys mucking around as the poor suffering students (no money for food, but they can afford a Mac laptop?). Philip Lee is an exceptionally strong actor and singer as Rodolfo and Nicolas Dwyer provides good support as a leather-clad Marcello.
This is a thoroughly modern yet comprehensive version of La Boheme; in many ways more believable than with the conventional Puccini staging. As expected, the vocal talent is not as impressive as you’d find at a renowned opera house, but these young performers are well on their way to the major London theatres, and it is a pleasure to support them on their journey there.
La Boheme continues until 20 February, book tickets here.