‘Philip Godfrey’s irresistible new musical’
Philip Godfrey’s irresistible new musical concentrates on Casanova’s passionate prowess and minimises the darker undercurrents of venereal disease, incest, his encounter with the Inquisition and months in the Doge’s prison.
Whatever the result lacks in nuance, it more than makes up for in sheer joie-de-vivre, toe-tapping melodies and cheeky lyrics.
Anthony Flaum’s Casanova seduces us all with his grace, ease, confidence, twinkle in the eye and mellow singing voice.
Supporting roles are deftly performed, nimbly choreographed and lightly directed by Tim McArthur, who delivers lashings of gloriously unsubtle jokes and makes us relish rather than censure the incongruity of Welsh and Yorkshire accents being spoken from Prussia to Russia.
The many fine performances include William Ludwig’s kinky De Bernis and David Longden’s discreetly sinful Cardinal.
Casanova’s one true love, the dainty Henriette (Julia G Addison), is winsome in designer Sally Ferguson’s creative-on-a-budget costumes.
The one disappointment is the abruptness of the ending, not least because it’s the end of our whole-hearted enjoyment.
Theatreworld Internet Magazine
‘Casanova had the full house completely delighted’
Absolutely brilliant! From the first cheeky grin to the last sigh this high energy, highly professional and highly entertaining musical romp through the life and loves of Casanova had the full house completely delighted.
Written and composed by Philip Godfrey and brought alive on stage by director Tim McArthur, this is a modern and masterful story with a touch of the classical for good measure. Godfrey’s score and lyrics are witty, touching and often hilarious. The three piece ensemble (Michael Steel – piano, Charlie Pyne – Bass Guitar and Michael Grant – Reeds) created an atmosphere of intimacy and fun, so fitting for such a story. I do love a bit of clarinet and Grant is a superb instrumentalist.
McArthur has done a wonderful job organising and directing the comings and goings of the 11 actors who bring over 30 characters to play. Anthony Flaum is engaging and totally believable as the raffish Casanova. His humour and charm capture the audience and his voice enthralls. Also of note is Julia G Addison in her role as Henriette, Casanova’s one true love. Her final goodbye to Casanova in ‘If You Have Loved’ was emotive and moving. Scott Armstrong in his variety of high society toffs is a good balance to the reckless Casanova.
The entire cast is deserving of praise, with no single weak link. The songs are owned and well performed, the choreography tight and snappy, and the warmth and energy of the characters endearing and humorous.
And just a wee mention of the costumes (Sally Ferguson) – perfect.
This is an excellent production from Trilby Productions (Katherine Ives and Tim McArthur). A great mix of fabulous music, excellent acting and masterful direction. I highly recommend that you see this show. In fact, I will be returning with friends in tow.
The Docklands 24
‘A cracking musical…a terrific romp’
CASANOVA: rogue, philanderer, scoundrel. And, as it turns out, a cracking musical as well.
This was a terrific romp – quite literally at times – charting the life and loves of the legendary lothario. The story itself is a difficult one to condense – the Italian Stallion was busy enough with his church training, music and magic, without taking into account his regular encounters with women.
Casanova worked his way across Europe , picking up lost loves, illegitimate children and venereal diseases wherever he went. Fortunately, this show more than does justice to the remarkable life of the leading man.
Anthony Flaum’s Casanova is devilishly charming, carrying out the most heinous of crimes with a constant twinkle in the eye. He is brilliant as he moves from one woman to the next and is ably supported by a gaggle of superb – and sexy – female supports.
The male actors are equally good, with David Longden’s Cardinal and William Ludwig’s De Bernis particular highlights for me.
The songs are fun and at times wickedly naughty. Mixed doubles, a ditty about the kind of pleasure normally associated with couples in car parks, is a hoot, while Tact is a delicious slight on the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the church.
Tim McArthur – who has previously worked at Greenwich to great effect – directs a pacy, energetic show, which benefits from Philip Godfrey’s writing.
It works beautifully in the confined surroundings of the Greenwich Playhouse, and the two hours seem to pass in an instant. Perhaps time really does fly by when you’re having fun.
‘Altogether an endearing piece’
For his musical about Casanova, Philip Godfrey has taken some of the incidents of his life (a full account would be longer than “Gone with the Wind” and we don’t want that!) and fashioned them into an entertaining show that reveals the essence of the man’s life and loves. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are signs of tongues being firmly lodged in cheeks…
Godfrey, a former Cambridge organ scholar, has written much choral music including pieces for children as well as chamber and orchestral music. The music for “Casanova” is pleasant, a mixture of rumbustiously choreographed production numbers and contemplative ballads and love songs. The book is comprised of short, sharp scenes and the dialogue seems to ring true despite some anachronisms… but it’s all in the spirit and fun of the thing which could, I suppose, be called “Carry on Casanova” as it is at times quite hilariously funny.
There are eleven members in the cast, which is a lot to cope with on the Greenwich Playhouse’s long, thin space, but the company manage very well, are all good singers and in particular are outstanding in the ensemble numbers. Director and choreographer Tim McArthur is to be congratulated on keeping the pace relentlessly on the go. The accompanying band brings a further touch of joie de vivre to proceedings.
The cast is uniformly talented, from Anthony Flaum’s charismatic showing in the title role through all the various characters that Casanova meets on his travels around Europe . Julia G. Addison plays Casanova’s life-long love Henriette with conviction, as well as putting in appearances as two other ladies. Scott Armstrong is Senator Bragadin, Antonio and Frederick the Great, and Gemma Morsley is Lucrezia and Catherine the Great, David Longden plays both a Cardinal and Voltaire and two other roles besides, and so it goes. The tone of the piece is very much musical comedy but it also reveals insights about a man who might otherwise be a total enigma. This is altogether an endearing piece that, with its lack of pretension, is far more successful than many a bigger, more serious production could ever possibly be.
News Shopper Online
‘I was seduced by Casanova’
I am by no means the first girl to fall for Casanova’s charm. But whereas 100-odd maidens succumbed to the legendary lothario himself in the 1700s, I was seduced by Casanova, a new musical, from Philip Godfrey, at Greenwich Playhouse.
That’s not to say the show’s lead, as the titular titillator, doesn’t rise to the occasion.
A confident Anthony Flaum filled the famously busy trousers with verve and the house with powerful and pleasing vocals. As you’d expect from a piece inspired by the memoirs of a philanderer of this calibre, proceedings are rather raunchy. There’s plenty of steamy clinches, crotch-grabbing and not-so-coy innuendo.
Take the deliciously camp laugh and eyebrow raiser Mixed Doubles, performed to coincide with a controversial menage a quatre. This number epitomises the musical’s tongue-in-cheek vision – be prepared for a 14-year-old fiancee, naughty nuns and incest – and is perfectly led by William Ludwig as voyeuristic De Bernis.
The ensemble numbers are just as glorious, in fact barely a song on the score hits a bum note.
New Year in Paris and On the Road in Europe are catchier than the venereal disease Casanova spreads across the continent. And Carnival! evokes the sensual stylings of Kander and Ebb’s Cell Block Tango from Chicago , thanks to director Tim McArthur’s slick choreography, an incredible achievement with an 11-strong cast for the Playhouse’s confines.
In comparison, a couple of duets feel quite dry and contain some glass-shattering notes from the female performers which are just too big for this stage. Yet Every Moment, a song Casanova shares with true love Henriette (Julia G Addison) is touching and proves Casanova was a romantic at heart.
A fun romp on the most part this musical may be, but it sensitively reveals Casanova was far from the misogynist playboy, as sometimes portrayed.
He worshiped women and treated them as equals in an unequal age. A real ladies’ man.
Barking & Dagenham Post
‘A fine musical which would grace any West End stage’
When it comes to being amorous, the notorious seducer, Casanova, had no equal, as the legendary lover’s memoirs reveal.
And it is these memoirs which have inspired the new musical, Casanova, now playing at the Greenwich Playhouse.
This world premiere proves a delight from start to finish, as 11 actors and three musicians romp through Europe of the 1700s, bringing more than 30 characters to the tiny stage.
The opening scene of a dejected Casanova bewailing his plight is soon obliterated by the remembrance of his first love of many years ago, who, after much head-scratching, he remembers as Angela.
She is quickly followed by a whole queue of female conquests as the daring seducer’s exploits are brought hilariously to life in a series of scenes highlighting the romances and scandals which invariably ensued.
Casanova – superbly played by Anthony Flaum – bedded more than 100 women from all walks of life – from nuns to noblewomen.
Anthony’s opening ‘How Long…?’ is the first of many memorable songs from writer Philip Godfrey, and one which reveals to the full the talent which landed Anthony in the quarter finals of BBC2’s ‘Voice of Musical Theatre 2006.’
The rake used his charm to rub shoulders with the aristocracy, and travelled across Europe leaving a trail of heartbroken women behind him.
A former soldier, concert fiddler, and even an amateur doctor, he pretended to be a magician and alchemist to cheat his unsuspecting victims out of their fortunes before moving on.
This musical reunites Trilby Productions’ creative team behind last summer’s successful Coloured Lights: A Musical Celebration of Kander & Ebb, also at the Playhouse; and Jack the Ripper the Musical by Ron Pember and Denis de Marne at Jermyn Street Theatre.
The action moves at a fast and funny pace, with heels and skirts flying in all directions as the hero has his wicked way in a fine musical which would grace any West End stage.
A superb evening’s entertainment, the highlight of which, for me came at the end of Act One, when the quartet of Casanova, along with De Bernis (William Ludwig), Mother Maria (Libby Christensen), and Caterina (Michelle Whitney), gave voice to ‘Mixed Doubles’ before enjoying a foursome romp beneath the sheets.
‘Philip Godfrey’s sharp script’
A romance with a sharp, satirical edge, it’s hard to see why the story of highly-charged lothario Casanova hasn’t been made before.
If this production is anything to go by, the story, if treated with a tongue-in-cheek, mischievous humour, lends itself wonderfully to the stage.
The work of Philip Godfrey a Kilburn-based composer, the musical follows the life of the legendary womaniser as he travels across Europe , trying his hand at medicine, magic and music alongside the obvious conquests.
Thinking about the seductions, the threesomes, the career paths, the charlatan antics, the subject matter is clearly funny but Philip Godfrey’s sharp script has many hidden gems, with visual gags and cheeky innuendos saturating most scenes.
Set in the small Greenwich Playhouse, the set was extremely basic and the costumes just about got the message across. But this gets you imagining what the play would be like on the grand scale, with colourful textiles, and the results would be stunning no doubt.
The music, consisting of just a bass, keyboard, clarinet and a couple more wind instruments, was lively, catchy and uplifting, fitting in with the satirical atmosphere perfectly.
Treasures include a song devoted entirely to sexually transmitted infections as a doctor urges Casanova to stay in his district, warbling on about having had no custom since the promiscuous deviant left town.
A fitting first musical with a mischievous theme and saturated with laughs, Casanova is a worthy night out.
‘A consistently upbeat, frothy tale’
Greenwich Playhouse was in full Carry On mode earlier this month for the premiere of Casanova, Philip Godfrey’s playful musical about the world famous womanizer, writes Mark Campbell . Based on memoirs of the legendary lover, Godfrey’s musical is book-ended by the elderly Giacomo Casanova penning his fascinating life story, which unravels in a frenetic patchwork of adventures that jumps from one amorous encounter to the next.
Given a tongue-in-cheek ‘12A’ rating, Casanova played fast and loose with theatrical conventions, introduced a good deal of Carry On innuendo (“she’ll fit him in”, “that’s a big one” etc) and told its story with a number of highly entertaining songs that never slowed the pace. Make no mistake, musically we were in full Joseph mode rather than high opera, but that was all to the good for retelling such a consistently upbeat, frothy tale that was primarily concerned with entertainment of the ‘naughty but nice’ kind.
Anthony Flaum was brilliant as Casanova – part scheming conman, part charismatic lover, part self-effacing joker. The actor’s natural charm and good looks made it easy to imagine him wooing any woman (or man) he came across during his travels. William Ludwig as a sex-mad noblemen was also hilarious, never more so than when leering through a two-way mirror at his wife and Casanova going at it hammer and tongs. Beth Davies was wonderful as the larger-than-life Madame D’Urfe, her natural Welsh lilt adding a whole new layer of comedy to the character.
Gemma Morsley, Emma Fenney, Libby Christensen and Julia G Addison were all appropriately alluring as Casanova’s many conquests, with Michelle Whitney particularly funny as a reluctant water nymph with a grating Essex accent. Splendid too were Scott Armstrong, William Hazell and David Longden; director and choreographer Tim McArthur had made sure this was a real team effort, with every member of the cast giving their all. Stephen Hose’s musical direction was faultless, while the singing of the whole cast was uniformly excellent.
British Theatre Guide
‘moments of real beauty
Philip Godfrey has written book, music and lyrics of this lively new musical, drawing largely on the twelve volumes of Giacomo Casanova’s own memoirs La historie de ma vie. Full of sprightly tunes in an operetta/music theatre style, rather than pop, it is given a fast-paced production by director/ choreographer Tim McArthur with an ensemble of 11 who play three or four characters each, apart from Anthony Flaum in the title role…
…intentionally outrageous performances, often unsubtle humour and delightful high camp mingle with moments of real beauty, for Godfrey can turn from a number about gonorrhoea to a delightful romantic duet like ‘Every moment’ sung by Casanova and his great love Henriette (Julia Addison).
Flaum makes a sturdily good-looking, tongue-in-cheek Casanova, engaging despite a little over-grimacing, and in fine voice. Scott Armstrong is a fluttery Frederick the Great…
…there’s a very funny sequence with the supposed castrato Bellino (Beth Davies) who turns out to be really female and as voracious as Casanova. While some of his affairs are exploitive and linked to other chicanery, Godfrey shows us Casanova as a genuine romantic. His love for a young girl (Michelle Whitney), whose father won’t accept their engagement but places her in a convent, makes him go to Mass there each Sunday just to be in the same building – though it ends disastrously when an Inquisition spy traps him in an episode that allows William Ludwig and Libby Christensen to make the most of a voyeur French diplomat and his Mother Superior mistress, for the nuns ‘all practice celibacy but … are only practising’ – while Casanova ends up in gaol.
Indeed Casanova has plenty of setbacks. He adores one young woman (Emma Fenney) who turns out to be his own daughter, born of an earlier love Lucrezia (Gemma Morsley, who also has her moment as Catherine the Great). Just in time, Lucrezia turns up and stops their marriage (but not the birth of a baby). Neverthless, the mood stays upbeat and the evening succeeds as a light-hearted romp.