Rebecca Loses the Plot

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Opening Line from Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca

It is hard to go past the opening line of Daphne du Maurier’s Gothic 1938 novel, Rebecca which spawned many films, plays and in this case a 2006 Austrian musical now translated into English. One of the problems of the novel is that it is 432 pages long in paperback, so there is plenty of story to be covered, as seen by the 39 songs. Hitchcock, in his 1940 film, with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine changed the story to fit the screen. The Director Alejandro Bonatto has done the same but as more versions are made so the story becomes diluted and sanitised.

The play opens with Lauren Jones as I in the book as the narrator singing the opening number at a hotel in Monte Carlo where she is a companion to Mrs van Hopper (Shirley Jameson).  I becomes the Second Mrs de Winter.  She meets, falls in love and marries Maxim de Winter (Richard Carson). Maxim is a wealthy widower whose ancestral house is Manderley but he cannot overcome the loss of his first wife Rebecca.

Michelle Fox as Tybalt (Photo: Jane Hobson)

At Manderley, Maxim introduces his new wife to the staff and this is the first time we meet the sinister Mrs Danvers (Kara Lane) who is even more obsessed with the loss of Rebecca.  Max, Mrs Danvers and the new Mrs de Winter are the three principals who drive the story but the haunting figure of Rebecca is present in all that transpires. It is in the new Mrs de Winter’s imagination that the mystery of Rebecca is formed.

It is hard to see how the new mouse-like Mrs de Winter was attracted to her husband, here in the all too rapid courtship.  Kara Lane is very strong as the housekeeper with unbounded loyalty to her first mistress and antagonism towards her replacement.  She tries to encourage the new wife to jump out of a second-floor window. The music has been well received abroad and a version of Rebecca still runs in Vienna. 

The singing, by the leads, is good, especially Lauren Jones as I singing sweetly and finding power in the song “Mrs de Winter is Me!” The stage is small but the set designed by Nicky Shaw is capable of changes to reflect different scenes, but we do have the obligatory smoke machines to reflect the moors and Cornish weather. The orchestra has 18 members under the Musical Director Robert Scott in the Charing Cross Theatre’s new enlarged orchestral space.   

Those familiar with the novel may find the watering down of the novel’s major points disappointing as this diminishes the entire story, as presented in this version of the musical by Alejandro Bonatti. This is a musical with considerable potential but missed the opportunity to be something special.

Shirley Jameson as Mrs van Hopper and Lauren Jones as I (Photo: Mark Senior)

Musical Numbers

Act One


Last Night I Dreamt of Manderley 

Monte Carlo  

You Can Count On Me

The Brand New Mrs de Winter


The Old Country Ways

Are You Happy

Are You Angry

Help Me Face the Night

An Obvious Mistake

She knew the Men


She’s Gone

Oh My God!


What a Night

Tonight I Will Amaze Them All

Act One Finale 

/Rebecca (Reprise)


Act Two


You’ll Always Love Her

Rebecca (Reprise)

Just One Step

Flotsam and Jetsam

She’s Gone (Reprise)

You Love Her Too Much

I’ll Never Forget Her Smile

Free Now

Brand New Mrs de Winter (Reprise)

Mrs de Winter Is Me!

Your Love Will Make Him Strong

The Inquest

I’ll Scratch Your Back

She’s Gone (Reprise)

They Left at Eight

Nobody Saw Through Her

I Hear You Singing – Rebecca

Through the Night

Manderley’s On Fire


/Last Night I Dreamt of Mannerly (Reprise)


Production Notes


Music by Sylvester Levay

 Book and Lyrics by Michael Kunze

English Lyrics Christopher Hampton and Michael Kunze

Directed by Alejandro Bonatto



Sarah Harlington

David Breeds

Kara Lane

Melanie Bright

Neil Moors

Nicholas Lumley

Piers Bate

Richard Carson

Lauren Jones

Alex James-Ward

Shirley Jameson

Nigel-Joseph Francis

 Emily Apps


Gail Mackinnon

Rosie Glossop

James Mateo-Salt

Elliot Swann

Scott McClure

Tarisha Rhombic



Director: Alejandro Bonatto

Designer: Nicky Shaw

Musical Supervisor and Director: Robert Scott

Lighting Designer:  David Seldes

Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson

Choreographer: Ron Howell

Projection Design: Matt Powell


Running Time: Two hours 25 minutes with an interval

Booking until 18th November 2023 



Charing Cross Theatre

The Arches

Villiers Street

London WC2N 6NL

Box Office: 08444 930 650

Tube: Embankment

Reviewed by Malcolm Beckett

at the Charing Cross Theatre

on 20th September 2023