Do I Hear A Waltz?

Theatre, Musicals
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 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

 (© Bill Knight)
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© Bill Knight

'Do I Hear a Waltz?'

Given that Stephen Sondheim has declared his one-off 1965 collaboration with Richard Rodgers the biggest regret of his career, it’s hard not to question the fundamental thinking behind this limp, lacklustre revival.

The main problem is the story, which is so lightweight we suspect a strong fart would be enough to sweep the entire cast off stage. Our leading lady is Leona (played by Rebecca Seale), a New York secretary who falls for a schmucky Italian shopkeeper, played by Philip Lee with all the authenticity of one of those puppets from the Dolmio TV ads.

The songs, meanwhile, are as safe as a Michael McIntyre stand-up set, running the microscopic comedic gamut between the ballache of air travel and casual xenophobia.

Technically, it’s fine – the cast sing well without artificial amplification and there are a couple of strong performances, notably from Rosie Strobel as predatory hotel owner Fioria. But – like forming a Beatles tribute band and only ever playing ‘Yellow Submarine’ – it’s an exercise that was doomed from the start. At a time when so much musical theatre is so smart and self-aware, it’s hard to imagine anyone being charmed by the bland characters and overbearing schmaltz of ‘Do I Hear a Waltz?’.

By: David Clack

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If you like Sondheim and/or Rogers you will probably enjoy this show. I have read a few reviews which focus on the fact that Sondheim said he regretted making this musical. This should not put people off as he had similar thoughts on West Side Story saying that the lyrics he likes are 'few and far between'.


Arthur Laurents' wrote the book and the plot is a little flimsy, but the Sondheim/Rogers songs are excellent as are the performances. Obviously it is not a big budget show so the set is very sparse. The theatre is small so the music is provided by a pianist and percussionist instead an orchestra. There are no huge Broadway numbers and no heart warming ending, but fans of Sondheim will not be expecting either of these.


Unfortunately this type of musical does seem to be out of fashion at the moment and it is great that groups such at Charles Court Opera and small theatres like The Park Theatre are giving people the opportunity to see them performed live.

I think this is a little unfair, it is a musical of its time, namely 1963, and the fact that it is a Sondheim/Rogers collaboration is surely enough to make it of interest.  The production is beautifully and skillfully played and sung, the performances are right on the button and John Savournin's subtle but confident direction is a refreshing change from the over bright, sledgehammer approach often seen in musical theatre.  No. there are no mics and the acoustics in The Park not the friendliest but I heard every word and every note. And sure, the plot is flimsy and outdated but context is everything and to my mind this s well worth an evening out.