Saturday, January 28

Fisherman’s Friends The Musical – The Alexandra, Birmingham

This musical is based on the 2019 film of Fisherman’s Friends, which also takes its inspiration from the surprise hit group of the same name. The production sails into Birmingham this week as one of its first venues on a UK Tour.

When city boy Danny stumbles across a group of sea shanty singing fisherman in the little village of Port Issac, he believes he has found the next big thing. Can he gain the trust and the hearts of the village or just a slap with a wet fish?

For a couple of hours you are given a window into the lives of the people of Port Issac in Cornwall. Traditions and history are part of their daily lives, dotting an old language through their conversation, celebrating Saints days and above all being there for each other. Although life is not the easiest and there is underlying tension, there is plenty of humour amongst the drama with some perfectly crafted and timed one liners.

For a touring production there are a large number of people on the stage. The lines between musicians and actors are blurred as some of the cast also play a wide range of instruments as part of the scene, creating the feel of a lively and popular local pub. Throughout the performance the energy of the cast is evident as they harmoniously but passionately sing the songs of the sea and the area and swing around the stage in the dance routines.

Photo: Pamela Raith

Although not one of the Fisherman’s Friends group, Alwyn (Parisa Shahmir) features heavily in the story. Shahmir’s performance is full of emotion and heart and her vocals soar, especially in her solo numbers. As leader of the band Jim, played by James Gaddas, is the questioning realist of the piece. His strength of feeling and devotion to tradition is evident throughout in both his singing and acting. Together the Fisherman’s Friends men create an amazing sound, usually acapella, that cannot fail to bring a smile to your face. Among the up tempo numbers in Act 1 is “Cousin Jack” beautifully lead by Ben and Wiggy (Dakota Starr and Pete Gallagher) it brings a reflective mood and displays the versatility of the cast. Every performer is strong and believable in their role, each one bringing their characters story to life, Danny getting himself back on track, Rowan and Sally dealing with a new baby and the weight of expectation, Jago reluctantly needing to slow down and Maggie fighting for everyone to live their lives.

With a fixed set, clever use of various props and lighting takes the story from a boat at sea, the beach, a pub and to the Thames. Cast members manoeuvre tables, chairs and other items seamlessly as part of the action keeping the story moving at pace.

There is something for everyone in this musical, romance, drama, comedy, great music and engaging story lines. Fisherman’s Friends, the Musical is heart-warming and uplifting, it will have your feet tapping and your heart longing for the sea. Cast your net and catch yourself a ticket and a great night out.

Runs until Saturday 17th September,

Reviewer: Annette Nuttall

Reviewed: 13th September

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★