The brand-new pop musical, Fantastically Great Women is an inspirational and moving celebration of female empowerment. Set to an original, fun, and strong score, this musical demonstrates the importance of being yourself and discovering how you want to change the world.
We are introduced to the inquisitive heroine of the show, Jade, who gets separated from her school group on a trip to the museum. She discovers the not yet open Gallery of Greatness, where she meets twelve influential women from history, who help her on her path to discovering who she wants to be. At only eleven years old, Jade is concerned she is running out of time to make a difference, but she soon learns that it is not about when you make history, just that you don’t ever give up trying to.
The show opens with the number ‘Quiet Children’, providing an energetic and hilarious opening to the show. The four incredible women who play multiple characters throughout the performance were electric, their harmonies and impeccable belting providing a small taste of what was to come.
Jade, played by Kudzai Mangombe, is first introduced when she runs through the audience onto stage, a perfect introduction to her character. Her expressive personality shines through with Mangombe’s facial expressions and gestures, her performance of ‘I’m Here’ being particularly moving. Her energy remains throughout the entire performance, her chemistry with the other cast members palpable.
The fantastic Renée Lamb first showcases her talent as Amelia Earhart, in ‘Where Do You Wanna Go?’, her American accent being consistent throughout her dialogue and her singing. She goes on to portray Mary Seacole and notably Rosa Parks. Her rendition of ‘Rosa’s Lullaby’ was especially touching and emotional, showing exceptional chemistry with Mangombe.
A highlight of the show was ‘World of Colour’ where Frida Kahlo, played by Jade Kennedy, was introduced in a showstopping performance. The choreography and colour on stage was spectacular, with the percussionist joining the cast on stage. The use of lighting in this particular number was outstanding, being seamlessly congruent with the choreography and how the performers moved on stage. Kennedy’s colourful costume reveal was standout, providing for a really magical moment on stage.
Christina Modestou was hilarious in her role as Jane Austen, providing strikingly timed comedy, specifically when she demonstrated her operatic vocal range, leading to great applause from the audience. Her portrayal as Gertrude Ederle was the perfect introduction, her high energy and vocals matching with the choreography.
Finally, Kirstie Skivington gave a strong performance as Emmeline Pankhurst and led ‘Deeds Not Words’ beautifully, the high energy choreography seeming effortless. She transitioned into Agent Fifi with ease, switching accents as if it was second nature.
An unusual but well-executed choice was to have the band on stage throughout the performance on a raised platform, giving the band the recognition they deserve. The band were incorporated and part of the show, instead of fading into the background, with the staging making an impression.
Though only five performers on stage throughout the majority of the show, the smaller cast is completely captivating and there is no need for an expanded cast. Each performer gave their all to every character performance, all incredibly expressive and charismatic performances. It was particularly impressive that as well as flawless and quick costume changes, each actor changed their accent and singing voice to reflect their new character.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is a hilarious, colourful, and eccentric musical which honours the legacy of fantastically great women who have and continue to inspire women every day. Each cast member is flawless, their energetic performances enhanced through strong and synchronised choreography. This must-see show will be enjoyed by all and is sure to leave you feeling empowered, inspired, and full of joy.
The show is running at the London Theatre Royal Stratford East until Sunday 17th July, tickets can be purchased from https://www.stratfordeast.com/whats-on/all-shows/fantastically-great-women-who-changed-the-world
Reviewer: Maani Way
Reviewed: 22nd June 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★