ZORRO THE MUSICAL | London, Charing Cross Theatre

The 2008 Olivier Award-winning West End musical has been reincarnated as an immersive actor-musician production that sets the action in traverse, with the intimate 200-seater theatre split into two sections. Inasmuch as it’s possible to do a “classy” production of this camp, Spanish-American Robin Hood, this production succeeds in every way.

Music by The Gipsy Kings includes immediately recognisable hits like “Baila Me” and “Bamboleo”, which burst with joy out of every member of the ensemble. Throughout, the singing is dazzling, especially in the female-led songs of lamentation. Musicians come out into the audience: they are a travelling gypsy troupe coming to perform in a new city (the guitarists deserve some kind of award for their sheer physical stamina).

“Have him hanged at dawn,” pronounces the cold-as-ice, transparently evil new alcalde (Alex Gibson-Giorgio), in classic Sheriff-of-Nottingham form. And yet, the expert cast somehow find truth in every line, and draw out the palpable tensions between the gypsy community and the American authorities in 1805.

Audiences hoping to see the big-stage spectacle of the original, or a huge flaming “Z”, may be disappointed. But the sword fighting (Renny Krupinski) hits the mark, as do the quick changes and special effects (Tim Haddon). Audiences should come for an evening of amazing live music, and stay to find the hidden emotional power this production has discovered in an old tale.

Playing 2 April – 28 May 2022 at the Charing Cross Theatre.

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