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Glory Ride Musical: Review from The Chronicle

Glory Ride Musical Has Complex Characters and Epic Performances
Glory Ride Musical Review

By Martin Lewis of The Chronicle

Note: This review will be published in the 1 June print edition of The Chronicle

While most London musicals these days derive from popular movies and books, I was happy to find a completely new work called Glory Ride. It is thrilling. I can’t remember the last time I was drawn in so quickly and so decisively to a set of characters and to their songs.

Glory Ride takes place in Florence, Italy during the Second World War. Glory Ride’s set within Charing Cross Theatre really transports you to a piazza in Tuscany. I might add that the Charing Cross Theatre is intimate yet probably has the most legroom in town!

The protagonist Gino Bartali was a Tour de France winner and one of the most famous men in the country after Mussolini. As the War broke out, he was focused only on cycling. But when Mussolini and his Blackshirts begin rounding up partisans, Jews, and suspect children, Bartali bravely conspires with the Cardinal of Tuscany and a local accountant to save the endangered people that the Fascists are hunting down.

Bartali, played by Josh St. Clair with raw emotion and a heroic voice, , sings the heartbreaking Look Ahead, while pedaling past the fascists. As Cardinal Dalla Costa, Niall Sheehy’s lush tenor shatters hearts in the audience with 800 Souls, in which he questions the Pope’s decrees and realizes that he cannot wait for a sign from God. Composer-lyricist Victoria Buchholz knows how to hook us.

Glory Ride has a compelling love story, too, and Bartali’s wife Adriana is portrayed by Amy Di Bartolomeo in the single most powerful musical performance in the West End today. After her defiant Act I solo Promises, Di Bartolomeo could have led the audience on a march to Trafalgar Square and toppled any government within 1,000 miles.

Sure, book writers Victoria Buchholz and Todd Buchholz have brought drama, tension, and romance. But anything else? Oh yes, humor, too. Daniel Robinson brings out Glory Ride’s witty dialogue with gestures, inflections, and sometimes just a cock of the eyebrow.

Finally, while no one depicts Mussolini on stage, Fed Zanni portrays Gino’s childhood friend and Fascist antagonist, Mario Carita. It is a brilliant portrayal of a complex character. Zanni’s duet with St. Clair Glory is unforgettable — operatic, balletic, and a true West End showstopper. Bravo to Olivier-winner Kelly Devine for directing this show.

Glory Ride is excellent—a musical you won't soon forget. Everyone should see it.


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