Karen Koren: Magical musical trips down memory lane

Tim Minchin. Picture: Colin Hattersley
Tim Minchin. Picture: Colin Hattersley

I love musical theatre and over the last week have experienced two very different shows.

I was lucky to be taken to The Kink’s Sunny Afternoon at the Playhouse last week. It’s a celebration of British pop music at its best. A jukebox show featuring the songs of Ray Davies and telling his story and that of his band The Kinks through most of the 1960s: their rise and near-fall.

There are the inevitable rifts, marital tiffs and money troubles, handled with a deliberate roughness, because this is a musical that puts heart and soul above the polished slickness we associate with celebrity.

It’s all a musical should be, funny, sad and the audience get to their feet for the finale and dance to Lola and a reprieve of their biggest hits. My favourite rendition during the show was Waterloo Sunset -such a beautiful song. It was a huge trip down memory lane for me and I loved it.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the next night I went to the second last night of the musical Groundhog Day at the Old Vic in London, before it transfers to Broadway.

It comes from the creative team behind Matilda, award-winning composer and lyricist Tim Minchin teams up with director Matthew Warchus and writer Danny Rubin, who also penned the original film, starring Bill Murray, to bring the 1993 comedy to the Old Vic.

This is an amazing, fast-paced piece of musical theatre. From the beginning you forget about the film version. It is cleverly choreographed with spinning stages and great music. Broadway performer Andy Karl, who plays the TV weatherman Phil Connors, is an absolute star, and I enjoyed it so much that I would love to see it again.

I never thought that the repetition of the situation would work, but this team has achieved the impossible and it’s a musical that will run and run. It will transfer to the West End, I am sure, once it has wowed Broadway.

Tim Minchin has certainly come a long way since his career kicked off at the Gilded Balloon back in 2005!

I am very proud of him.

Karen Koren is artistic director of the Gilded Balloon