Love Goddess is (another) biopic musical about Rita Hayworth – AKA Margarita Carmen Cansino – the dazzling yet ultimately tragic 1940s American dancer and actress. 

Credit: Roswitha Chesher

Directed by Steve North and performing in the theatre-in-the-round Cockpit Theatre, the musical begins with a young Hayworth (Imogen Kingsley-Smith) performing with her father. She has an undeniable talent and charm, and everyone speculates she will one day be hugely famous. Thus, she is married off to a middle-aged man, beginning the rocky path to fame. 

Almog Pail as Rita Hayworth was, at times, very strong, having the suave Hayworth possessed, making it easy to accept her as the star. Unfortunately, she fluctuated in her acting and bizarrely seemed to switch accents throughout the show. Portraying such an iconic and at times overwhelmed woman is no easy feat, especially when you try to capture almost her entire life in a span of two hours. By the end of the show, Pail left something to be desired, and not just with her acting, as she also wrote the show. The script was at best cheesy and at worst confusing. Pail often spoke directly to Kingsley-Smith as the younger Hayworth (or an unspecified other character/the audience?) the most common line being the cliche, “Remember what you love.” I felt like the script was trying too hard to be profound, sadly resulting in doing a disservice to the titular actress. 

With only the four remaining actors playing multiple roles, (Pail only played Hayworth) it is way too far a reach to bring in as many secondary characters as they did. This was not helped by the fact none of the people from Hayworth’s life that they featured were likable; I could not connect with one character. Sometimes I didn’t even know who was being played, as it wasn’t clear and the actors seldom changed costumes. 

Credit: Roswitha Chesher

A few biopics of women I have seen (e.g. Tina and The Cher Show) form the plot around their husbands or love interests, which I find problematic. Love Goddess is no different. Though there’s something to be noted for Hayworth’s rejection of her husbands, there is a song where she pretends to shoot them one by one, ending with her slowly turning in a circle, pointing the gun at the audience. I was very uncomfortable and wondered at the reasoning behind that decision. 

The most outstanding aspect of the show, and the reason for its third star, is Kinglsey-Smith’s dancing. She is fluid, graceful, and performed a spectacular tap number. (I’m a sucker for a tap dance break.) She is obviously an extremely talented dancer, and it is a delight having her showcase Hayworth’s dancing. 

All in all, I was disappointed in what looked like a promising musical paying homage to Hayworth. Though there’s obvious effort and passion put into this show, it needs to be developed a bit more to reach its full potential. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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