Get a personalised letter from Santa


PUBLISHED: 15:37 07 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:20 24 August 2010

By Katherine Ormerod The poster for Marguerite is intoxicating. Ruthie Henshall with her classic femme fetale looks, clad in a Gilda-esque long red dress seducing you and your hard-earned cash. The critical plaudits orgasmically announ

By Katherine Ormerod

The poster for Marguerite is intoxicating.

Ruthie Henshall with her classic femme fetale looks, clad in a Gilda-esque long red dress seducing you and your hard-earned cash.

The critical plaudits orgasmically announce that Marguerite is the best show in town, and with the fabulous plotline, I was ridiculously excited to see how the musical would stand up especially as it is the newest offering from Oscar-winning Michael Legrand and author Alain Boublil (of Les Mis fame and fortune).

With musicals it seems, you either love or hate them, and I am solidly in the first camp.

Which made my disappointment all the more wrenching.

The problem with living in London is that you are constantly bombarded with a subtle form of (often subliminal) persuasion.

Billboards at the tube, the moving adverts as you ascend up the escalator and images in magazines and free papers constantly nudging you to think this or that.

These underhand devices had already convinced me that I was going to LOVE Marguerite.

It started well, and the supporting cast cannot be faulted.

They tell the story of Vichy France, the government of occupation during WW II.

We follow the world of the Establishment which collaborated with Hitler's purges, voluntarily increasing sanctions against the native Jewish population.

This is definitely not a story that French nationalists would be comfortable with, and there is something ballsy about the way the story challenges the public memory - memories which most French people are quite happy to sweep under the carpet.

Marguerite, the concubine of Otto the German general, an ex chanteuse with a wild streak, based loosely on the classic fallen heroine Marie Duplessis, falls madly in love with a (you guessed it penniless) piano player.

Their love story goes against all boundaries of class, politics and morality and in the whirlwind, family and friendship bonds are forsaken as the wrath of Otto is incurred.

The story unfolds beautifully as you see Marguerite's golden days decline.

As the war draws to a close, her 'friends' who now profess to love all Jews move to spurn Marguerite.

The final scene is a poignant reminder of the plight of many victims after victory was declared as Marguerite is kicked to the ground and her head shaven: a ritual humiliation experienced by many a 'female fraterniser'.

So far so good.

Unfortunately Ruthie Henshall's voice repulsed every inch of my soul. It set my teeth on edge and totally diminished my enjoyment throughout the production. Critics have praised her training and control, but as far as I could hear that training amounted to warbling, (not quite Mariah) girlish whining and an ability to obscure every single words she sang. Horses for courses and all that, but really, when I think musical voice - I think pure, clear, powerful belters, infused with passion. As so often when you do not believe in the main character, it is difficult to believe in the story. Go to see Marguerite, but my advice is to wait until the lead is replaced - hopefully with someone whose voice does not degrade the music to schmaltzy, wordless whimpers.

Latest Kilburn & Brent Stories

Yesterday, 18:53

Hendon fell to a fourth away defeat in their last five matches on the road after another disappointing display saw them beaten by two Basingstoke Town goals in the space of three first-half minutes.

Yesterday, 09:15

Harrow saw three players sent off in the first half of their match with the leaders and conceded five times after the restart on a day to forget in Somerset.

Yesterday, 08:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Times’ readers this week.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

In a match that was open for both sides, neither team seized the opportunity and took a point apiece at Clarence Park.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Queens Park Rangers manager Steve McClaren claimed referee Peter Bankes cost his side a result after awarding Leeds a penalty which Kemar Roofe converted to give United a 2-1 comeback win at Elland Road.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sky Bet Championship: Leeds United 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

I was recently in North Kensington, just over Brent’s boundary, with the Grenfell Health & Wellbeing Service; I am lead governor at Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, which runs it, and saw it close up.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Carlton Tavern could be reopened in April, nine months after the planning inspectorate told them to rebuild it.


A new community centre, The Yellow, opens in Wembley Park in the heart of the Brent community. From October 1, the hub will offer a selection of arts and fitness classes, many of which will be free.

The Granville has begun taking bookings for workspaces and events ahead of its opening this spring.

Brent Clinical Commissioning Group has announced changes to the community’s cardiology service.

Newsletter Sign Up

Kilburn Times twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read Entertainment

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Brent & Kilburn Times
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now