Tamsin Greig swaps the small screen for the stage in a musical adaptation of a cult cinema classic, writes Dominic Wells.
Pedro Almodóvar’s film Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown is transformed into a musical.
W omenOnTheVergeOfANervous Breakdown is the latest in a long line of films adapted as musicals, but it’s a bolder, more interesting choice than a Hollywood hit such as LegallyBlonde or DirtyDancing. WomenOnTheVerge… (1988) gave cult Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar his first international hit. And with its hilariously twisty plot, in which multiple stories of love and desperation converge via gazpacho laced with sleeping pills and a chase to the airport in a ‘Mambo Taxi’, it has enough elements of farce to make ideal material for the stage.
Even so, the Broadway production in 2010 failed to ignite and closed early, despite three Tony nominations. The West End version has been substantially retooled by the original creators, Jeffrey Lane and David Yazbek, currently enjoying a hit with DirtyRotten Scoundrels, and Almodóvar himself sat in on workshops and gave the production his seal of approval.
It also has a not-so-secret weapon: Tamsin Greig. The name may be unfamiliar outside the UK, but she is both a razor-sharp comedienne in TV series such as GreenWing and Episodes, and a fine stage actress, winner of the Olivier Award for MuchAdoAbout
Nothing. The surprise is that she can also sing. ‘I feel very fortunate to have been encouraged − well, bullied − by my agent to have singing lessons,’ Greig has said. Director Bartlett Sher, who helmed the Broadway production, says her performance is key: ‘We would not be doing it without her.’
The proof will be in the pudding – or rather, the sleeping pill-laced gazpacho – when the curtain rises on a colourful 1980s Madrid. But with a strong female cast, including Willemijn Verkaik from Wicked and the brilliant TV and stage actress Haydn Gwynne, this could be a musical on the verge of greatness.
"The twisty plot has enough elements of farce to make ideal material for the stage"
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