"Good performances fail to redeem a pointless revival"
-The Stage-

"A great showcase for five extraordinary performers"

"A delightfully irreverent piece"
-Broadway World-

Sorry, Ruthless! The Musical closed on 23 Jun 2018

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Ruthless! is outrageous and entertaining

Critic Rating

27 March 2018, Arts Theatre
Alice Bzowska Alice Bzowska
Little blonde girls with pigtails, cheesy smiles and a bratty stage-school nature are usually quite frightening, and Tina Denmark is no exception in Ruthless! the Musical, a story of just how far a person can go to get exactly what they want.

Showing at the Arts Theatre in London for a strictly limited 14-week run, this revival of the critically-acclaimed off-Broadway production, first shown 25 years ago, returns with as much callousness as it had back then.

Directed by Richard Fitch, the all-female character cast includes eight-year old Tina, talented and pretty in a sickly-sweet way, tap dancing and singing her way across the stage at every opportunity and desperate to play the lead in the school play. Meanwhile her mother Judy, played by Kim Maresca – fresh from performing the role across the pond – takes a backseat to her daughter.

Judy is a retro housewife whose whole life revolves around the cooking, the cleaning and her gifted child. When eccentric and extravagant talent agent Sylvia (Jason Gardiner) knocks on their door one morning, everything changes and the secrets and pure ruthlessness of the characters is soon unravelled.

Also in the cast is Lara Denning (Betty Lerman), Harriet Thorpe (Tina’s teacher) and Tracie Bennett as Tina’s grandmother, Lita Encore. Bennett plays her role with drunken hilarity, and there are similarities between her characterisation of Lita and her Olivier Award nominated role as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow.

Ruthless! is outrageous and entertaining, and famously spoofs Broadway musicals such as Gypsy as well as iconic movies like All About Eve. The music by Joel Paley (who also wrote the book) and Marvin Laird, although lively, isn’t memorable, but the cast’s passion and character's brutal merciless is engaging and comical enough to make it a musical to watch.

Reviewed by Alice Bzowska

The Stage
Really this is all one big, nasty, waspish, self-satisfied in-joke of a show pandering to, and so reproducing, the cruelties it is attempting to satirise. Ruthless? No. Pointless?
The show may be ridiculous, and more than a little shonky, but the performances are sublime and make the evening a blast of comic Broadway excess.
Broadway World
Ruthless! is a deliciously camp musical that takes turns you can't expect and brilliantly showcases a talented cast. Simply put, it's great fun.