(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 9/20; video clip is from the Young Vic's 2008 production.)

If you want to see a theatre at full stretch and maximum throttle, head to the Young Vic, which is reviving its thrilling production of Kurt Weill’s 1947 “Broadway opera”, Street Scene.

The show, staged in collaboration with The Opera Group, won the Evening Standard award for best musical three years ago, even though it played for only a handful of performances. Now it is back for a longer run and a national tour.

Weill regarded his score for Street Scene as his masterpiece, and though it lacks the bite of his Threepenny Opera, it is an extraordinary work, mixing operatic arias with jazz, blues and spirituals. The music has the vibrant pulse of New York about it, and at times Puccini seems to be shaking hands with George Gershwin.

The Young Vic has assembled a company of 80 for this production, all set in the course of 24 hours in a bustling, gossipy, multi-racial tenement on New York’s East Side during a heatwave. There is a small army of child actors, the splendid BBC Concert Orchestra is a visible presence on stage, while in the upper balcony there is a full-voiced choir.


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