Posts Tagged ‘William Bullivant’

It’s always good to welcome a new British musical, and this is a promising one, but as the great Stephen Sondheim says, musicals aren’t written they’re rewritten, so I approach this as work-in-progress.

Katharine Heath’s superb design turns the Union Theatre into The Green Fairy pub, where our protagonist Jo comes to see her estranged daughter Wendy perform at their Open Mic Night. From here, we flash back, courtesy of an actual green fairy, to a the moment Jo falls in love with Eliza but decides not to accompany her on her quest for fame in the USA. We then learn that she marries Daniel, the landlord of the pub, and they have a child, Wendy. From here we move back and fore to piece together Jo’s story, facilitated by the Green Fairy.

It’s a slow and shaky start, which risks losing the audience before it takes them in its hold. Jack Sain has written the book, music and some of the lyrics, with Stephen Libby, and also directed. In my view this is one job too many and, despite his directorial experience, that’s the chair he should have relinquished to ensure some healthy creative tension that could have tightened it. They have their moments, but neither the book nor the score are currently good enough, and not all of the unamplified singers win the battle with four or five instruments, so the storytelling is hampered because not all of the lyrics are audible.

It’s good to see Julie Atherton again, and she navigates the emotional roller-coaster role of Jo very well, with strong vocals. Georgina Hellier is outstanding as Eliza / the Green Fairy and the supporting cast – Emma Whittaker, David Perkins, Emma Kidney & Harry F Brown – are all very good. MD William Bullivant has made the short journey from Preludes at the Southwark Playhouse to helm this very successfully.

I do hope we get a second version, but that doesn’t stop me from recommending this first outing for musical theatre lovers.

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