Review of 'By Jeeves'

by_jeeves.jpg You can be forgiven for never having heard of the musical “Jeeves” by none other than the king of musicals Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is a new version of Jeeves, “By Jeeves” which was filmed by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) in Toronto on a specially created set.

This musical is based on the P.G. Wodehouse “Jeeves and Wooster” stories with this particular story set in a performance hall in the where the wealthy but hapless bachelor Bertie Wooster (John Scherer) is on the stage to perform a banjo recital, as ever watched over by his faithful butler Jeeves. When the banjo is inexplicably damaged (!) he is forced to improvise by telling the story of a rather unfortunate situation he found himself in where he was forced to assume the identify of one of his friends (all his friends have wonderful names such as “Stiffy”, “Stinker” and “Gussie”). Thankfully Jeeves (Martin Jarvis; the only British member of the cast) is on hand to offer some “helpful” advice…All of this is simply an excuse for a series of brilliantly staged, fun and entertaining set pieces.

This is a delight from beginning to end. Light and thoroughly enjoyable throughout. The set is brilliant and is used to great comedic effect. The cast perform with exceptional timing and all have tremendous voices (this is not opera, but a simple, fun musical score). Scherer as Wooster is on stage for all but one piece in the show but is perfectly suited to the role with a beautiful voice and a quick, witty character. “Love's Maze” and “Half a Moment” stand out for me as being two of the musical highlights - Beautiful lyrics and performed fantastically. A shame we have not seen a major revival of this in recent years…

The filming is somewhat amateurish with a number of poorly framed shots but I can forgive that for the quality of the performances, the staging and, of course, the amazing music and sparkling lyrics. Simply a joy to watch.

I watched this on DVD which included several amusing extras including a making of documentary as well as interviews with the cast & crew (the later done extremely tongue in cheek).

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2019-02-27

Directed by: Nick Morris

Studio: Really Useful Films

Year: 2001

Length: 141 minutes

Genre: Musical

Other reviewed films by Gale Edwards, Nick Morris: