Londonist's been looking for a proper, new, bona fide West End Musical for you for ages. (Marguerite: too many Nazis; Never Forget: too many hens; Into the Hoods: too street; Brief Encounter, Dirty Dancing: too not-the-film; Gone With The Wind: too meh...)
Decent, take-your-mum's-mate-along musicals are hard to come by. In Zorro, we're happy to let you know we think we've found one.
What do you need from a good show?
A cheeky hero with a swagger, a twinkle in his eye and a way with the ladies? Check. Thanks, Matt Rawle (Zorro). (Oh, and we would.) A couple of strong female leads with gorgeous, soaring voices, great personalities and some stunning dance moves? Check. Emma Williams (Louisa) can put last year's flop, Desperately Seeking Susan behind her; who knows what's in store for the fabulous Lesli Margherita – we couldn't take our eyes off this sexy US star. A psychotic baddie with a lasting vendetta against our swaggering hero? Check. Nice work by long-term thesp Adam Levy (Ramon).
What else do we want from a night in the West End?
Disguise, romance, toe-tapping tunes, subtly-set duets, an exotic setting, crowd-pleasing dance numbers, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, a dash of camp, love at first sight (so what if he's wearing a mask?!) and some stunning songs? Check, check, check. Zorro's got it all. And more...
The show's a masterclass in theatrical pyrotechnics, sword-fighting and slick magic tricks. Then there's the dancing.
Zorro's set to the music of the Gipsy Kings, the people responsible for by-the-pool classics such as Baila Me and Bamboleo. In the context of the show, however (plus last night's tropical temperatures inside the Garrick), the hip-shaking sounds of Spanish Flamenco meets funky salsa, combined with the most incredible skirt-twirling, hand-clapping, sweat-dripping, foot-stomping latino, salsa, rhumba, and flamenco moves make for a pretty amazing experience. You'd expect nothing less from master choreographer, Rafael Amargo.
With all this passion and energy, not to mention the remarkable ululating vocals transporting you to steamy, hot 1880s Spanish California, you can forgive the occasional moments of clumsy plotting and clunky set mechanics, and get swept along by the hero in the mask and the cape.
Watch out for the fantastic Djobi Djoba, where the two fabulous female leads really get a chance to shine. If those rhythms don't make you want to don a pair of Cuban heels, stamp, clap and shout Olé, you're missing something.
Zorro is playing at the Garrick Theatre until 10 January 2009. Visit www.zorrothemusical.com for more information.
Images show a swordfight between Matt Rawle as Zorro and Adam Levy as Ramon. Plus Lesli Marguerite as Inez, dancing. Both pictures by Alastair Muir.