Death Takes A Holiday: A brilliant, melancholy musical

New musical Death Takes A Holiday is a brilliant production full of fantastic songs, charismatic characters and will keep you wondering just how it will end.

Director: Thom Southerland

Starring: Zoe Doano, Chris Peluso, Mark Inscoe, James Gant, Kathryn Akin, Ashley Stillburn, Scarlett Courtney, Matthew McDonald, Helen Turner, Sophie-May Feek, Trudi Camilleri, Anthony Cable, Gay Soper and Samuel Thomas

Book: Thomas Meehan

Theatre: Charing Cross Theatre

Running time: January 16 – March 4

I got the privilege to see the new musical at Charing Cross Theatre, Death Takes A Holiday and I cannot express how great it was.

Adapted from a book, the plays sees Death (Chris Peluso) taking a holiday and spending a weekend at the home of Duke Vittorio Lamberti (Mark Inscoe) at the edge of the Lago di Garda in northern Italy.

During his time at the villa, his presence begins to have an impact on not just those who live in the house but the entire world. No one dies and everyone seems to have a fresh new step in their lives.

Death becomes attached to Lamberti’s daughter Grazia (Zoe Doano) and his quest to find out why men are terrified of him is answered.

Peluso’s portrayal of Death is both charismatic and charming but at the same time you feel a sort of stern and powerful persona.

His ability to walk onto the stage and immediately grasp the audience’s attention is applaudable. Sadly Peluso will be leaving the production in February.

Peluso will be replaced by James Gant – who is currently playing the part of butler Fidele. Gant brings to life the cowardly and hilarious character who accidentally finds out the truth about Death.

When on stage Gant stays in character and even when eyes are focussed on other characters Gant is one I would recommend to keep an eye on.

Small things he does emphasises Fidele’s character including downing a glass of champagne that was meant for the rest of the family.

The whole cast is perfectly suited to their role and you will be humming the songs hours after the show has ended.

In particular the opening song In The Middle of Your Life is extremely catchy and relatable – you never know what will happen on a daily basis – which seems to be the premise of the narrative.

There is one song that I found to be moving and memorable. Losing Roberto is sung by Stephanie Lamberti (Kathryn Akin) who sings about losing her son during World War One.

This is both an emotional song but Akin brings out the despair and upset a mother must go through after losing a son. This song is so moving it makes Death think about his plans.

With a narrative focussed around the character of death, it is not surprisingly both the set and the costumes have a sort of melancholy and dark theme.

The play is a soaring story of the preciousness of life and the overwhelming power of love. Anyone who is a fan of Phantom of the Opera will thoroughly enjoy this one.

I would highly recommend seeing Death Takes A Holiday. It is one I would happily see again.