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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Garrick Theatre      2008 - 2009

This new musical takes a while to warm up, but eventually delivers a lot of fire, a lot of energy and a lot of fun. Be patient through a sluggish first half and you'll be well rewarded.

Zorro is the legendary Mexican hero - effete nobleman by day, masked defender of the downtrodden by night - here set to the music of the Gipsy Kings, a mix of Catalonian flamenco and Latin American rumba.

This version of the story - book and lyrics by Stephen Clark - has Don Diego return from hanging out with Spanish Gypsies to find that his childhood friend has become tyrannical ruler of the village, oppressing the poor and threatening the virtue of the damsel in the inevitable triangle.

(Actually it's a quadrangle, since Diego brings his Gypsy girlfriend with him, but she's wise and philosophical enough to back off.)

And so the masked avenger must be created, to save condemned innocents, fight the bad guy's army and rescue the girl, all while keeping his identity secret even from her.

Swords clash, ropes are swung from, and swashes are buckled all over the place, interrupted only by the occasional love scene and lots of spirited flamenco-style dancing. What's not to like?

Well, one problem is that the lovers are given nothing to work with musically for more than half the show. It isn't until midway through the second act and their despairing duet 'A Love We'll Never Live' and, a few minutes later, her Lloyd Webberish 'Man Behind The Mask' that either of them gets a decent song.

All the musical power is in the chorus numbers, the highly dramatic flamenco 'Libertad' and the more joyous 'Bomboleo' and 'Djobi Djoba'.

It's these numbers, and particularly Rafael Amargo's high-energy choreography, that really carry the show.

As Diego/Zorro, Matt Rawle is appropriately manly and dashing, whether he's doing magic tricks, carrying on two swordfights at once, swinging from the rafters or pretending to be the weakling.

Emma Williams makes the heroine fragile and lovely, but just spunky enough to be worth saving, and Adam Levy is satisfyingly slimy as the villain.

But the real star of the show is Lesli Margherita as Diego's Gypsy gal-pal. It is she who leads the singing and dancing in all the big production numbers, and she brings an air of sexy wit to every scene she's in.

As with other compilation musicals, fans of the Gipsy Kings will be especially attracted to this Zorro. But the rest of us will find a lot to enjoy in the high-energy dance numbers and the four attractive central performances, more than enough to carry us over the slower stretches.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  Zorro - Garrick Theatre 2008