★★★ | It Happened in Key West
A true story of a man who dug up the love of his life is a musical called It Happened in Key West.
Yes, it did happen in Key West. In the 1940s, Count Carl Von Cosel fell in love with a woman, Elena, he was treating for tuberculosis . She died, but von Cosel was so infatuated and in love with her that he dug up her body and, for over 7 years, lived with her, well not really with her but with her body, in his house, in Key West.
Now playing at the Charing Cross Theatre, with book, music and lyrics by Jill Santoriello, book and additional lyrics by Jason Huza, and book and original content by Jeremiah Janes who all collaborated together to create this musical, while a bit on the funny side, is too morbid and too silly to be taken seriously, and not funny enough to be camp and over the top.
Having said that, Wade Mccollum is great as the Count. He’s got a great singing voice, especially in a song where he pines for Elena (‘Undying Love’ and ‘I’ve Never Felt This way’) are two standouts. He commands the stage and surely belongs in the West End but in a better show. Alyssa Martyn is just fine as Elena, who surprisingly dies before the first half is finished – it might’ve made more sense to have her die after the first half, but she does sing ‘I Feel Love,’ while dead, in the second half, and comes ‘back to life’ at the very end to sing, beautifully, in the finale. Director and Choreographer Marc Robin doesn’t have a whole lot to work with, it seems like the same 12 boxes remained as the set the whole way through the show. ‘It Happened in Key West,’ billed as a New Romantic Musical Comedy, is not much of a musical nor a romance.