The author, composer and lyricist of ‘Money to Burn’ Daniel Abineri, informs us in the programme notes that he approached 21 London producers to see who would be willing to put on his show. After hundreds of unreturned phone calls he finally twigged that the answer was no one. However, this did not stop him from raising the money and producing the musical himself!
The story is of Lord Oliver Justin, ‘OJ’ to his friends, an infamous aristocratic playboy and a ‘respected’ member of the British establishment. OJ is the man with money to burn, but never his own money, always other peoples. His own fortune went up in flames when his investment in asbestos became a deficit, leaving him penniless. He is however married to the filthy rich Lady Tiggy, a woman who married OJ in order to acquire the title of ‘Lady’. When Lady Tiggy refuses to continue funding OJ’s excesses, he has to resort to drastic measures, and so with the help of his chauffer he plots his wife’s murder in the belief that he will inherit her fortune.
The plot is surprisingly predictable and is more farcical then farce. The humour relies a great deal on smuttiness, which may cause a mild chortle, but scarcely amounts to serious comedy. Also, Abineri has the annoying habit of explaining his jokes, even when no explanation is necessary.
The author describes the music as Jazz Pop. I am not sure that I would agree with the pop, but as easy listening music goes it is pleasant and inoffensive to the ears. The best song is the opening song “Money to Burn” which is sung beautifully by Camilla, a finalist in the BBC’s Fame Academy. However, that is the one exception, and the remaining music remains at best mediocre.
The action is meant to take place in the hectic atmosphere of the Kitty Club, a sleazy nightclub for upper class toffs and working-class girls, but with a cast of eight it is impossible for them to convince us that this is anything other then a failing late-night drinking club.
The cast do there best with the material given to them, and to be fair they do manage to make this show entertaining. Peter Blake makes a convincing ‘OJ’, a pompous, self-conceited sleaze-ball, and though he was not able to make me laugh, his characterisation of ‘OJ’ rescued me from boredom. Perry Benson plays the part of ‘OJ’s’ down trodden chuffer Perkins, with delightful deadpan irony.
Try as I may I could not help but think I was watching a workshop, rather than a commercial production. There is the potential here for a good musical, and in the hands of the right creative team with a larger cast and some clever choreography maybe it could prove to be a hit.
What other critics had to say.....
FIONA MOUNTFORD for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Terrible musical." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Woefully misbegotten enterprise."
External links to full reviews from popular press