NAPOLEON

 
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


NAPOLEON

"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?
 

Press commentaries: 
 

VARIETY New York / November 2000

NAPOLEON

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

Napoleon

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.. ...