"disjointed & confusing theatrical piece"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 10/08/13

Rogers and Hammerstein were among the most popular and successful creators of musical theatre being responsible for shows with plots taken from novels – like 'Oklahoma' and 'Carousel' – rather than written from scratch.

'Pipe Dream' was one of the least successful of these. The plot came from a story by John Steinbeck – he who was responsible for 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Grapes of Wrath' – and this is taken from 'Cannery Row' – set in Monte Rey California during the depression, where the canning factory had been closed leaving people out of work and turned into hobos overnight.

Doc is one of the lucky ones, he has degrees from Stanford University and spends his time researching the lives of sea animals and with a laboratory filled with starfish etc. But he takes care of the guys in the flophouse and they visit him regularly, another frequent guest is Fauna, the woman who runs the whorehouse.

One day a little itinerant girl Suzie comes into his life and would have been arrested by the police as a vagrant if she hadn’t been taken in by Fauna to live in the whorehouse, a place filled with long legged girls in suspenders and dirty faces.

The plot concerns Docs relationship with Suzie and with the efforts of the flophouse people to obtain a microscope for him.

This is a very disjointed and confusing piece of theatre and I couldn’t help thinking that this hugely talented cast were wasted on this material and I would have liked to see them in something else. There is some very vigorous dancing by the flophouse residents and the long legged, dirty faced girls. The dancing is – as usual at the Union – exceptional and there is some grand choral singing and full voiced solos from Kieran Brown (lately seen as The Phantom by Maury Yeston) as Doc, David Haydn as Mack and most especially from newcomer Nick Martland as Hazel. Suzie is played by Charlotte Scott – a good opportunity for her - she has a sweet very feminine voice, very far from the tomboy character she is playing and she breaks your heart with the wistful song ‘Everybody’s got a home but me’ which she sings quietly. Vierge Gilchrist plays Fauna – a loving heart hidden behind a hard face and a good resounding belt.

There are some good songs, but the lyrics are trivial – it comes from an age of prohibitions when true wit flew out of the window.

Somewhat disappointing – although other people enjoyed it.

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