We did not plan to see this musical, but it was hot outside, the theatre was cool and we kept hearing how great it was, so we went. A wise decision as it turned out, as Jackie Maxwell did a great job directing this rambling musical based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow.
I did not particularly like the novel and was surprised by how much better the musical form fit the story. I did wonder how the Americans in the audience felt about this rather negative view of their history, as I found some of the portrayals of racist behaviour uncomfortable to watch. But perhaps I worry unnecessarily, as the audience was fully ebgaged in watching the performance and gave it an enthusiastic standing ovation.
One of my definitions of a great musical is that I should leave humming. This does not happen, as I had never heard any of the songs before and none stuck with me. So in my view this is an excellent production of a good musical. But not great.
The staging was very effective and visually dramatic. The cast was uniformly good, as expected at Shaw. Thom Allison has the big voice and the big number.