Theatre Review

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“Lady at the Wheel”

The new musical comedy “Lady at the Wheel” which has been running since January at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, may irritate motoring enthusiasts by presenting blonde Jinx Abbott (Maggie Fitzgibbon), Peter Haines (Peter Gilmore) and Fernando Fernandez (Bernard Cribbins) as Monte Carlo Rally drivers clad in spotless racing overalls, racing boots and glistening new crash helmets, however pleasing this is to Les Leston who supplied these props. But that, and a few technicalities apart, should not keep you away from this bright show, with its breath of Fangio, the Café de Stirling Moss and that splendid “works” driver Fernandez, whose undoing is women and wine. Indeed, Bernard Cribbins as Fernandez steals the show and his “Siesta” is the best musical number in this lighthearted comedy, to which five extremely attractive young “debutantes” add life and skilful dancing of a very modern order. Jinx’s young men passengers are also entirely natural and the parts of the English entrant Sir Rowland Haines (Henry Longhurst), his foreign rival, Ramon Popoff (Frederick Schiller)—who is seen to be an avid reader of Motor Sport in the opening of Act I, Scene 4!—and Lady Isabel Haines (Vivienne Bennett) are notably well cast. The coloured maid of Monte Carlo resident Max Van Hoorn, known as Tuesday (Lucille Mapp) after her day off, will also more than catch the eye of the discerning in such matters.

There has been no Monte Carlo Rally quite like that around which “Lady at the Wheel” revolves, but motor sportsmen should enjoy it all the same. This musical comedy was moved to The Westminster Theatre on February 19th. — W. B.