FORTUNATELY for me, I only have a hazy memory of the film which took its inspiration from the Truman Capote short novel about society girl Holly Golightly, set in 1940s Manhattan, so I approached this new stage adaptation of the same novella, by Richard Greenberg, without too much knowledge of either the film or the main female role, both of which are referred to as “iconic” in much of the publicity.
The most famous thing about the film for me is Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini’s song Moon River, which won the Oscar for best song in 1961, so it was a great relief to find it featuring in this new stage version. It was one of just two full songs, but it was a show-stopping, spine-tingling moment, just girl and guitar, baring the soul and showing the vulnerability and tenderness of both actor and character, and was without any doubt the best thing in this show.
This should not have been a surprise, because playing Holly in this production is Pixie Lott, known to as many from Strictly Come Dancing as for her pop career. She brings great confidence from both of these areas to the role, but seems most comfortable when performing the songs.
It is not hard to believe this is her first major acting role, as she sometimes fails to own the stage when her character should. Her accent, supposedly trained from country girl to New York socialite, holds fairly well, most of the time, but can be a bit monotonous and repetitive at times, making it hard to understand some of the very witty and clever lines across a large auditorium. Hopefully by the time the show reaches its West End destination at the end of June she will have settled in to the role, and based on her singing alone I would love to see her in a full musical such as Chicago or Sweet Charity.
Matt Barber, apparently from Downton Abbey, plays Fred, her neighbour with great panache, and as he is the narrator they are both on stage for almost all of the play, as Fred finds himself captivated by this lady who everybody wants to be or be with. Matthew Wright’s clever and beautifully styled set changes around them, from bar to restaurant, park , office and neighbouring apartments, and is lit to perfection and punctuated with clever incidental music.
Others appear in the story, most notably the highly accomplished Victor McGuire as Joe the barman, Robert Calvert as Doc, Melanie La Barrie giving a wonderfully comic addition to proceedings as the roller-skating Madame Spanella, and Cat the cat, played by a real life, very well behaved, cat, but the stage is mainly Lott and Barber’s.
This beautiful looking Breakfast, directed with style by Nikolai Foster, is served at Southampton until Saturday and arrives at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on 29 June.