‘Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ is a musical based in a Spanish movie by Pedro Almodóvar. I saw the show in the Playhouse Theatre last week and I must recognise that I enjoyed it really much. It’s a fun night, with great actresses and good songs. I’m not going to compare the show with the movie, I’m just going to express my feelings when I saw the musical. Thanks God for the Day Seats, I could see the performance in the second row for £20. It’s amazing to see the actors and actresses so close to you and in a good price.
This show is coming from Broadway. It was the Belasco Theatre, in New York, for a few weeks and it was an absolutely flop, they even closed earlier than what was expected. It was quite surprising that a musical with these basic characteristic was coming to London, but apparently a lot of changes have been made. And now I can say that is a good production, it works very well and hopefully will be very successful. The main difference between Broadway and West End, in this case, is the stage is smaller and 2 songs have been changed. The show was nominated in the Tony Awards for the Best Original Score and Laura Benanti and Patti LuPone for their performance. Let’s see what happens here with the Olivier Awards this year.
‘Women on the verge’ is a musical inspired in a Spanish movie, directed by Pedro Almodóvar. It was released in 1988 and had several awards; it was nominated for an Oscar Award. The director and Rossy de Palma, one of the actresses of the original movie, were at one of the previews of the show. In the show, Ivan decides to break up with Pepa, and she suddenly discovers that he was married and has a son. His wife, Lucía, starts a trial against him. Meanwhile, Pepa’s best friend, Candela, is in trouble because she had a relationship with a terrorist. There are plenty of comic situations, stressful as well, around Pepa.
It’s a woman musical. All the actresses are great in the stage, they sing and perform amazingly well. Pepa is performed by Tamsin Greig, Lucía by Haydn Gwynne, Candela by Anna Skellern, Marisa by Seline Hizli and Paulina by Willemijn Verkaik. It’s an international cast, but not really Spanish for a story in Madrid. I expected that the actors would speak English with Spanish accent, but they didn’t. But is fine, because come on, the actors won’t speak Spanish in ‘Evita’, German in ‘Cabaret’ or French in ‘Les Misérables’. The cast is extremely talented, with a lot of sense of humour, and great voices.
I must say that I loved Anna Skellern performance. She has a beautiful voice; she is very funny and expressive. I loved the way she performs Candela so much. For me, one of the best moments of the show is ‘Model Behaviour’, when she is trying to speak with Pepa by phone. Just hilarious, the song is one of my favourites of all musicals now. Then, Willemijn Verkaik is performing Lucía’s lawyer. She is an actress that my boyfriend and I discovered her on ‘Wicked’. She is amazing, her voice is so powerful, and you easily fall in love with her. But she is not singing! I would like to see her singing more songs; I was really disappointed for that.
The songs and the lyrics were written by David Yazbek for the Broadway production. I think that the songs are one of the best things of the show. They sound really good. While I was watching the show, it was the first time I was listening all of them and I liked them. They are not much different from the typical pop in musicals, but with some guitars and some rhythms that reminds you Spain. Because it’s a female show, they play a lot with their voices, with the harmonies and the choirs. I specially remember the song ‘Tangled’ made me goosebumps, and I also loved the opening ‘Madrid is my mama’ with Ricardo Afonso, this amazing taxi driver, with a voice full of passion.
‘Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ is a Spanish show because the story is in Madrid in 1987. But in a very West End style. But still, there are a few things that remind you of Spain, like the songs, as I said, played most of them with Spanish guitar. And Pepa prepares an unique gazpacho or some characters says a few words in Spanish like ‘señora, mi vida…’. But also, there is a taxi driver who speaks with Spanish accent, although he is a Portuguese actor, and he is like a narrator of the story. It reminds me a lot of Che in ‘Evita’, but there is an actress dressed sometimes as a torero and sometimes as a flamenco dancer (that I don’t see the point) but she was really good as well.
I enjoyed the show not because it’s based in a Spanish film; I liked it because all the effects, the songs, the actors and actresses are good. This production is surprisingly amazing. I saw the show without any expectative and I was astonished. It’s a show inspired in the best of Spain too, specially the good mood. That’s what I enjoyed the most. Now there is the feeling that everything is hard and sad in Spain, but there are plenty of good things too, and this show made me think about it. So go to the Playhouse Theatre as soon as possible, don’t miss ‘Women on the verge of a nervous breakdown’, it’s a fun night for sure. It will change your mood, even in a freezing winter.