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Review: Rothschild and Sons, at Park 200: Park Theatre

Lavish reworking of musical that tells the story of wealthy banking dynasty features impressive performances

01 February, 2018 — By Lucy Popescu

Robert Cuccioli in Rothschild and Sons. Photo: Pamela Raith

THIS reworking of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s 1970 musical focuses on the Rothschilds’ humble beginnings and how they became one of the richest families in the world.

In the late 18th century, Mayer Rothschild (Robert Cuccioli), his beloved wife Gutele (Glory Crampton) and five sons are confined in the Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt. They are spat upon and abused by many of the townsfolk but this doesn’t stop Mayer, a hardworking coin dealer, from thinking big.

After serving as court factor for the Prince of Hesse, Mayer consolidates his financial empire by sending his five sons to do business in Europe. They mix with princes and his middle son Nathan (Gary Trainor) helps fund Britain’s campaign against Napoleon.

The family yearns for Europe’s ghetto walls to be torn down, but it takes time, money, and plenty of chutzpah. Risking their fortune, the Rothschilds have to outsmart those in power in order to achieve their dream.

A musical about a wealthy banking dynasty will not suit all tastes and it doesn’t have the finesse of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s earlier collaboration, Fiddler on the Roof.

However, given the size of the Park Theatre, Jeffrey B Moss’s production is lavish with an 11-strong cast, four musicians, period costumes and wigs galore. Cuccioli and Crampton reprise their roles from the New York run.

The singing and energetic performances are impressive. Cuccioli, making his UK debut, has a film star’s charisma and a voice to match. Trainor’s impetuous Nathan is also terrific.

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