Menier Chocolate Factory
© L Rees-Harris
  • Theatre | Musicals
  • Southwark
  • Recommended

Menier Chocolate Factory

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Time Out says

There are theatres that punch about their weight and then there's the Menier Chocolate Factory, the 150-seat venue that regularly fires out transfers – particularly of musicals – to the West End, and enjoys a close relationship with the great Stephen Sondheim.

The programming tends to be a sweet, crowd-pleasing mix of musicals and lighthearted plays, plus the occasional revue show imported from New York, and even the odd comedian. Some of its biggest hits have included 2010 'The Cage Aux Folles' with Catharine Zeta-Jones, 2015's 'Funny Girl', starring Sheridan Smith, and 2018's Trevor Nunn-directed 'Fiddler on the Roof'. 

Today, the Menier has a loyal fanbase and a knack for attracting legit (if well-seasoned) theatre names. But when the Menier's co-founders Danielle Tarento and David Babani first set up shop in 2004, they took the risk of opening their new theatre in a long-derelict former Menier chocolate factory in the then-unglamorous backstreets of Southwark. 

The Menier is now one of a small cluster of high-profile Bermondsey arts venues, with the Unicorn and Bridge theatres just down the road. Arrive early to appreciate its atmospheric underground bar, complete with a collection of relics found during the process of restoring the 1860s building it stands in. The restaurant – a long-term fixture that used to offer menus themed around individual shows – was a casualty of the pandemic and seems unlikely to come back.

Details

Address
53 Southwark St
London
SE1 1RU
Transport:
Tube: London Bridge
Opening hours:
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm
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What’s on

The Baker’s Wife

4 out of 5 stars

In American director Gordon Greenberg’s charming production of Joseph Stein and Stephen Schwartz’s 1989 musical there’s a lot more to ‘The Baker’s Wife’ than ‘Meadowlark’, its best-known song. For one thing, there’s a whole village in 1930s Provence seemingly addicted to bread. They’re practically salivating by the time the new baker, Amiable (Clive Rowe), arrives. This is followed by gossip about how much younger his wife, Genevieve (Lucie Jones) is. She quickly catches the eye of local heartthrob Dominique (Joaquin Pedro Valdes) and scandal among the sleepy café tables ensues. Musical theatre veteran Rowe lives up to his character’s name, projecting an irresistible amount of naïve geniality, happily oblivious to the sniggering of the villagers. He also stirs in an enjoyably chaotic energy after the interval and delivers a speech about love with a beautifully judged quietness that cuts through the ‘Allo ‘Allo-ness of it all – piercing our hearts as much as those of the humbled townsfolk. Jones, meanwhile, conveys the dilemma of Genevieve’s situation: her affection for her husband but also her yearning for more in a tiny, self-absorbed village. Jones also gives full weight to Genevieve’s watershed moment, the aforementioned ‘Meadowlark’, building up the poignancy of this gorgeous ode to choosing between duty and desire. It’s a story embedded in a story, both anchoring the character for the audience and setting her free. However, it’s not all ballads. Some of the best songs ar

  • Musicals
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