The Review of Zorro at the Congress Theatre.
Anyone wondering whether a musical version of Zorro would cut the mustard in terms of action can relax – there are explosions, sword fights, magic, rope-swinging, leaping and all the swashbuckling a fan could wish for.
Coupled with a strong story, music by the Gipsy Kings, flamenco dancing, excellent performances and a cracking comic script, the show had the usually demure Eastbourne audience on its feet for a standing ovation.
The musical traces the origins of Zorro – from a Californian nobleman who rejects his birthright to travel round Spain with a gang of gypsies, to masked avenger, fighting for justice and freedom.
Matt Rawle is excellent in the title role – equally good as the louche layabout Diego by day (with shades of the swashbuckling Captain Jack in Pirates of the Caribbean – minus the staggering and the Keith Richards impersonation), sword-fighting crusader Zorro and romantic hero.
His partner in crime is Aimie Atkinson, who gives a charming performance as Zorro's unwitting paramour, berating the 'lazy' Diego while falling for the dashing Zorro.
Lesli Margherita gives a feisty, funny performance as the high-kicking, wise-cracking gypsy Inez and delivers a comic double act with Nick Cavaliere as the lovelorn Sgt Garcia.
But despite all the humour in the show, there is also plenty of raw emotion – Adam Cooper's Ramon seethes with a potent mix of abandonment and ambition.
His character is more layered than a mere 'baddie' – although the Eastbourne audience did get so carried away they mixed boos with applause, panto-style, when he took his bows.
Director Christopher Renshaw deals with the changes in tone with aplomb and the musical is perfectly paced.
The excellent music, singing and dancing ooze Spanish style and are completely incorporated into the action, especially by Ramon Ruiz, who sets the scene with his accomplished guitar playing.
He pops up in various places in the impressive set which morphs in seconds from ship, complete with mast and rigging, to sun-bleached town square.
Eastbourne is lucky enough to enjoy the world premiere of Zorro before the musical goes on tour and ends up in the West End later in the year.
Zorro is at the Congress Theatre until Saturday night, with evening performances at 7.30pm and a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
Call 01323 412000 for tickets.