European first-night performance, Shaftesbury Theatre, London West End,
October 2000 - February 2001
Uwe Kroeger in the role of "Napoleon"
© Town House Publicity / Ivan Kyncl
"For you.... I would tear the world apart!"
From the lowly beginnings of a young, heroic visionary, to the magnificent coronation of an Emperor, to the shattering defeat of an obsessive tyrant at Waterloo, NAPOLEON sets a spectacular tale of ambition against one of the world's most passionate, tempestuous and ultimately heartbreaking love stories.
His love for Josephine and his blinding puruit of power led Napoleon to create one of the largest empires the world has ever seen.
What drove the same man to destroy it?
VARIETY New York / November 2000
By Matt Wolf
The eyes have it: That's an early reaction to Uwe Kroeger in "Napoleon", which signals the British theater debut of a performer who, at 35, has become a leading homegrown talent in the Continent's ever-expanding market for musicals.
Wether his fevered orbs are enough to make theatergoers say "aye" to a critically derided show is itself as doubtful as an English accent bearing clear Teutonic traces of Kroeger's native German. And yet, an intensity such as his looks unlikely to stay a European secret for long. Expect Kroeger to well outlast the vehicle that has landed him in London.
To be sure, critics rarely return to a show within three weeks of opening, especially given a reception so poor the first time around that local display ads have taken to quoting the audience. But no follower of the international musical could fail to sit up when a second "Napoleon" press night was announced for Nov. 6 to show off the alternate Corsican. (The Berlin-trained thesp is sharing the role with original lead Paul Baker, who does five shows a week to Kroeger's three).
Across the Channel, Kroeger has trawled the inevitable musical circuit, from the Mackintosh entries ("Les Miz", "Miss Saigon") to the Lloyd Webber ones ("Jesus Christ Superstar", Sunset Boulevard") through Disney's eponymous Beast to several indigenous European hits – "Mozart!" and "Elisabeth", the second of which gave Kroeger his breakout role playing Death.
How apt, then, that his arrival in "Napoleon" should add life to a musical portrait of a leader so undercast on opening night that the show lost all tension and sense. With Kroeger in the title role, there's no longer any mistaking the blazing fury of a ruler at once visionary and narcissist who fought – in the show's own parlance – for "an Elysium on earth". If anything, one could argue that Kroeger conveys an excessively driven figure for this show's lyrics. He's far too stern-faced and snappish a presence to be heard droning on about "the dream within you" when – if looks could conquer – this Napoleon would have taken Moscow in a single gaze.
In truth, the perf could be toned down
at least three degrees and still command attention, though it's interesting
to note the growth in co-star Anastasia Barzee, now that her Josephine has
someone to act against, however severe. The material remains pulpy as all
get out ("You have the world when you live your life with love", we're told),
but Kroeger drives the show as if an entire career – his, not Napoleon's
– depended on it. If Kroeger can relax a little while continuing to storm
the stage, his career may well find itself embarked upon its own global march.
Wall Street journal / 08.11.2000
..... Perhaps the most compelling scene
of the Zambello Production has Napoleon standing a living-room sized map
of Russia, with a mirror overhead magnifiying the drama. (part of the
musicals charm is ist attention to historical detail, and Napoleon had Bacler
d'Albe's Topography Department provide him maps in 1811 with the terrain
of Western Russia). I've seen both the lead and the backup in this scene,
and I urge the ticket Buyer to holdout for the understudy Uwe Kroeger, who
best captures the Corsican's emerging madness......
Musicals / Dec. 2000
Primarily the proof for the high level of the production standards in the West End.
... The title-role is played by two
actors: Paul Baker and Uwe Kroeger. I had hoped to compare them, but when
I arrived for a performance with Baker, he had been replaced by Kroeger,
and also on my next attempt to catch Baker on the stage: it was in fact Kroeger
who played. I was not in the mood to attempt it a third time and can only
say that as far as I'm concerned, I caught the better part. Uwe Kroeger is
a very strong Napoleon, his exemplary and clear diction became apparent already
in his first words. He played with great propulsion, through which he could
clarify the grounds for Napoleon's charisma and power, and expressed every
little bit of informative value from the music and the text. Unfortunately
the material did not allow him to show all his potential, which he very obviously
possesses, and moments like the coronation-scene in the final of the first
act showed us only a few short impressions of what we had to miss in the
rest of the musical. ...
Wirtschaftsblatt / 09.11.2000
..... He came, saw and sang: Musicalstar
Uwe Kroeger who had already stirred his fans to tears in Vienna, now lets
himself be heard in London. As Napoleon Bonaparte he shines in the new musical
on the stage of the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End......
Kurier / 08.11.2000
..... As everybody knows, the British
Isles refused to be occupied during the character from Corsicas life. 200
years later Uwe Kroeger, as the singing commander, made up for the
longed for "conquest". The new musical hit "Napoleon" from Andrew Sabiston
& Timothey Williams, in which premiere the bard stormed the hearts of
the London musical fans on Monday night. Certainly: The Waterloo had to be
– it's how history wants it to be. However, just only for Napoleon and not
for Uwe. Because his performance accumulated in the role of the power-greedy
ruler into a powerful top-form. The Shaftesbury Theatre boiled, at the end
there was frenetic applause and Standing Ovation......
Kronenzeitung / 07.11.2000
... ... our Uwe Kroeger is Napoleon
Bonaparte, and the musical-mad London adores him ! Since Monday evening,
as in the famous "Shaftesbury Theatre" the new musical "Napoleon" from Andrew
Sabiston (Book) and Timothey Williams (Music) with Uwe have had its premiere
and the audience celebrated Uwe frenetically. Something at the snobby Theater-West-End
of the British capital is, that Kroeger is the first German-Speaking male
actor here "to be allowed" to perform – up until now only three ladies of
German tongue managed that: Lotte Lenya, Hilde Knef and Ute Lemper .....
Täglich Alles / 09.11.2000
..... Uwe Kroeger performs now also in London!
..... Everybody waited for longed-for
performance of the presumably biggest current musicalstar of our country:
Uwe Kroeger. With a new look and accustomed top-voice he confronted the
audience with an unforgettable performance, which makes it worthwhile to
travel especially from Vienna.. ...