It started with a kiss

PUBLISHED: 17:18 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 August 2010

IT is not surprising the creators of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon new production, Marguerite, feels like an instant classic, writes Marina Soteriou.

IT is not surprising the creators of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon new production, Marguerite, feels like an instant classic, writes Marina Soteriou.

Although it is yet another love story set with the backdrop of a war, it manages to veer in a different direction and be in a class all of its own.

Marguerite is a complex and mysterious former singer who is having a love affair with high ranking Nazi officer Otto based in Paris at the time of the Nazi occupation.

She and her friends enjoy all the luxuries and perks of life, courtesy of the Nazi insider.

For them, the occupation and the Nazis, is a good thing.

The singer's friends and hangers-on, the chorus, enjoy the luxurious lifestyle and welcome the Nazis with open arms.

Marguerite is the door to this world. But when the jaded singer falls in love with a young musician with friends in the Resistance, this life hangs in the balance.

The costumes are luscious and the sets dramatic replicating the rooms of the general's luxurious home.

Of course, the star of the show is Ruthie Henshall and even though the audience do not need to be reminded of this, they are welcomed to the theatre with a giant projection of a video of her face.

The music which punctuates the story can be a bit tedious but there are often standout pieces just around the corner.

Marguerite's rendition of her most famous song, China Doll, at her 40th birthday party is a beautifully fragile and moving moment.

The jazz band hired for the evening's entertainment also manage to offer something fresh.

The story, based on one of the greatest of romantic novels, La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas has everything you need to fall in love with a musical but frustratingly this production falls just a tiny bit short of leaving you breathless.

The crucial flaw seems to lie in the writing. Marguerite risks her whole comfortable world to be with Armand, a penniless man half her age.

Unfortunately the audience does get to see what she sees in him.

Similarly, the titular role, although brilliantly worn by Henshall, leaves you wanting more.

Her actions surprise but you never know why she chose to do what she did.

This may be intentional but when you have such a brilliant cast and set you want to leave feeling you know the heroine.

l Booking is being taken until November 1, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Haymarket, London.

Prices are £25 to £60 plus concessions. Contact the box office on 0845 481 1870 or visit

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