Review: Harry’s Bar takes journey down the Mississippi

The cast of Suzanne Hawkes's new Harry's Bar episode Down the Mississippi, which is being performed

The cast of Suzanne Hawkes's new Harry's Bar episode Down the Mississippi, which is being performed at the Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe, in February. - Credit: Archant

Harry’s Bar 7: Down The Mississippi By Suzanne Hawkes The Orwell Hotel, Felixstowe until Saturday February 6

Bringing together some of America’s greatest talents, Harry’s Bar 7: Down The Mississippi is a treat for literature lovers and music lovers alike.

Now in its seventh inception, the Harry’s Bar is the popular format from the creative pen of playwright Suzanne Hawkes.

An evening of cabaret, now with its own loyal following, the action switches between of drama, poetry and music in the comfortable surroundings of the Orwell Hotel.

And this latest offering transports the audience to the bar of the Baton Rouge – a Mississippi paddle steamer – as it makes it way from St Louis to New Orleans.

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Along the way Truman Capote, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, even Charles Dickens, all make an appearance alongside some of literatures best-loved characters including Holly Golightly, Scarlett O’Hara, Captain Bixley, Huckleberry Finn and run away slave Jim.

In a relaxed plot overseen by barman Harry, Finn and Jim stow away while the drama tells some of the stories behind the well known names.

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And as the river keeps on rolling, the music, drawn from the musical heritage of the Mississippi, is excellent with vocals provided by the talented Stephanie Stoddart and Paul Stone. Supported by the cast and under the direction of Bill Stoddart, songs include – Summertime, Crazy, American Pie, Walking in Memphis, Zip a dee doo dah…the list goes on.

Elvis is even in the building as the talented Felixstowe musician Josh Locke makes an appearance performing the King’s moving American Trilogy.

Peppered with humour – Harry’s rendition of Ma Crepe Suzette and the full cast interpretation of the Battle of New Orleans among the lighter moments – Harry’s Bar 7 is as eclectic as ever it veers from music to drama to poetry and back again.

Meanwhile, as the Baton Rouge makes its way into New Orleans the characters reflect on their lives and work.

As entertaining as it is educational, Harry’s Bar remains a highlight of the Felixstowe cultural calendar.


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