Reviewer: Emma Clarendon
Last seen on Broadway in 2015, Lucy Simon’s musical based on classic love story between the doctor and Lara Guisher is a wonderfully brought to life in this lavish sounding concert production presented brilliantly by Lambert Jackson Productions.
Set in Russia and spanning from 1914 to 1930, Doctor Zhivago is a story of love and devotion set during a terrifying time in Russian history. Through the story the audience sees how Zhivago and Lara are brought together and separated on several occasions, gradually falling in love despite being married to other people. Of course, surrounding this is the rise of the revolution that tears many families apart including Zhivago’s.
Conducted with great power and sensitivity by Adam Hoskins, who along with the exquisite performance from the orchestra, manages to ensure that the music perfectly encapsulates the romance and passion of the story. Throughout numbers such as ‘Two Worlds’ and ‘Watch the Moon’ for example, it is possible to hear just how Lucy Simon’s music reflects the characters emotions while Amy Powers and Michael Korie’s lyrics express them so vividly. It is this combination that makes this score so compelling to listen to.
As well as the excellently performed score, this is a story that is complicated with numerous sub-plots that could be easily lost in the way in which the musical is presented in this form. However, the narration provided in a straightforward manner by Lucy Drever, ensures that the audience is never lost or confused in either the politics or the time frame in which the story unfolds.
By presenting it in concert form and by simply focusing on the music, audiences are drawn into how the story is effectively told through the songs, as well as conveying the terror that the Russian Revolution brought for ordinary people. Yet it also still manages to get to the heart of the characters and their conflicting emotions as highlighted during songs such as ‘It Comes to No Surprise’ – a lovely duet between Lara and Tonia when they come face to face for the first time – and the tender ‘In This House’ that reflects the feelins of Zhivago’s family when realised they have to leave their home.
The cast all put in powerful and emotionally engaging performances, capturing the spirit of the characters to great effect. Leading the cast, Ramin Karimloo as Doctor Zhivago captures his guilt over his love for Lara with great sincerity, along with his supremely rich and enjoyable vocals as heard on ‘Who is She?’ make for a charismatic performance. Meanwhile, Celinde Schoenmaker as Lara beautifully captures her passionate nature, while vocally always delves even deeper into the character’s emotions as heard on ‘When the Music Played’ to make for a compelling performance. There is also strong support from Charlie McCullagh as Pasha, capturing his headstrong and passionate manner with great enthusiasm and Kelly Mathieson who offers a delicate performance as Tonia.
Overall, this is compelling musical to watch unfold and shows just how much of an epic love story Doctor Zhivago is – not only the love between Lara and Doctor Zhivago but also the love that one can have for their country even when things go terribly wrong. A powerful and engaging performance.