The Sweet Smell of Success

The Sweet Smell of Success is a musical based on the 1957 movie of the same name, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Craig Carnelia and a book by John Guare. It is the story of the powerful newspaper columnist, JJ Hunsecker, who controls not only the New York celebrity gossip scene but the life of his younger sister. An attempt by an up-and-coming journalist to promote his own career by hanging on to Hunsecker’s coat-tails goes awry.

This dark musical has some excellent performances, including superb choreography, from the students at the Royal Academy of Music. The jazz-influenced music itself wasn’t as catchy as I would have liked, but I still found it to be a worthwhile show.

Le docteur Miracle / La tragédie de Carmen

I paid another visit to the Royal Academy of Music’s new theatre to see a student performance of two Bizet operas. One, Le docteur Miracle, was composed when Bizet was just eighteen, and is a simple amusing tale of a man who disguises himself as a servant to sneak into the house of his beloved, pretends to poison his new master, and, disguised as a doctor, explains that he can cure him only if he, Doctor Miracle, can win Laurette’s hand in marriage. It’s light and funny – I especially enjoyed the ‘Omelette Quartet’.

The second opera, La tragédie de Carmen, was a pared-down version of Carmen, reworked as a short chamber piece by Peter Brook and reorchestrated by Marius Constant. I’ve never seen the original so I can’t compare, but I enjoyed this version, which contained many of the famous songs and was gripping throughout.


Flight is the inaugural production of the Royal Academy of Music’s new Susie Sainsbury Theatre. The modern opera by Jonathan Dove, with a libretto by April De Angelis, first premiered in 1998 but doesn’t seem to have dated; in fact, featuring a refugee character, it is particularly timely.

The talented cast give this humorous and satirical tale of a group of tourists stranded at an airport a sparkling feel; I found it really enjoyable.