The Rita Hayworth Musical will leave you transfixed by the energetic dance, heady with the drama behind the scenes of Hollywood and mesmerised by the music. Almog Pail’s new production with music arrangements by Logan Medland is a fitting tribute to the charisma of Rita Hayworth. The Cockpit is the most suitable venue for the production, and the actors and dancers engage the audience by weaving the tale of the star intimately.
Don’t be deterred by not being familiar with the fame of Rita Hayworth. The play takes you through all the milestones of the creation of the star. In doing so, it also unmasks the glamour of Hollywood. Rita had an unsafe childhood with adults around her making her work from a young age and taking advantage of her. To think in the era of black and white film, Hollywood insisted on changing her hair colour and various treatments to remove her heritage.
Young Rita, played earnestly by Imogen Kingsley Smith, have you smitten with her hopes and aspirations of remembering each step. Kudos to choreographer Jacqui Jameson and the performers for expertly using the tight space. Throughout the play, the dance sequences have you charmed and asking for more.
Joey Simon, among other characters, plays the exacting father figure to the T. He magically transports us to this bygone era with his matching effortless dancing. As products of patriarchal societies, we have often heard the dialogues spat at Margarita Carmen Cansino in many forms. Simon Kane’s portrayal of the many men who pushed Rita further to ‘play the game’ and ‘do as they say’ felt so real that one has a visceral reaction to the hatred these men bestowed on our heroine.
Jane Quinn portrays her mother, journalist, confidante and child, allowing us to have an empathetic reveal of the person Rita Hayworth was. The five actor-singers portrayed over forty characters while effortlessly breaking into dance.
The entire troupe of the marvellous musical brings together drama, dance and dedication of the character journeying through life. There is not a dull moment! We even have projections on the actor in the song, My shadows and me! The expert use of props by Mayou Trikerioti with details like Fred’s shoes helps recreate the bygone era.
Since the time memorial, women have been placed on a pedestal, nitpicked, and gaslit. We often don’t hear what made them tick. We watch the play to see the love and determination of a bygone heroine and a troupe lovingly holding her spirit and memory.
Playing until 23rd December, https://www.thecockpit.org.uk/show/love_goddess_the_rita_hayworth_musical
Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil
Reviewed: 20th November 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★