Thursday, September 28

Julie: The Musical – Hope Mill Theatre

To most, the name Julie D’Aubigny may not mean anything at all, but once you’ve seen Julie: The Musical, you’ll be enthralled by her life, leaving as if you’d almost known her.

Julie D’Aubigny (otherwise known as La Maupin or as known as in this musical, ‘that b*tch’) was a 17th century opera singer, who was quite a dab hand with a sword, and widely believed to be one of the first openly bisexual public figures. Julie: The Musical takes us on a journey of her flamboyant life, through her turbulent career, scandalous love life and of course the tale of her romp with a nun (I’ve tamed the language for the sake of this review).

From the offset, audiences know they’re in for something a little different. The gig style performance is led by a cast of 5 wonderfully talented actor/musicians, who not only play multiple instruments throughout but also bring Julie’s story to life through their many different facades.

Giving vibes of recent theatrical sensations SIX and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, not only are audiences in for a night of entertainment, but also an education of real life people who had a big impact on the world.

We begin by learning about Julie’s youth, leading to her marriage and her first notable affair with fencing master, Seranne. After the first of many scandalous events, we see Julie run away with Seranne which after many years penniless and on the run, leads her to her next love, Amelie. Following this we’re guided to the titillating tale of her relations with a nun (you’ll have to watch it for more information on that). At the mere age of 17, Julie finds her true passion and joins the prestigious Paris Opera where she finds fame.

As we see the chaos of Julie’s life unravel, audiences are enthralled by the pure camp charm of it all. Like the character herself, the show is unapologetic and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is just a pleasure to watch. The actors really look like they’re enjoying themselves which draws you straight into the joy with them. Sam Kearney-Edwardes is fabulous, completely embodying the character of Julie, bringing the icon to life with such authenticity.

Sam is supported by a talented ensemble including Georgia Liela Stoller, Sophie Coward, Fabien Soto Pacheco and Alexander Tilley. Each transforms seamlessly into every character they create, whilst effortlessly picking up a different instrument every few minutes. Abey Bradbury’s script is outstanding, injecting modern quips into a historical story to paint a world that feels as modern as Julie’s avant-garde lifestyle.

In the second act we see things take a turn in Julie’s life; more upheaval means she’s forced to flee to Brussels and eventually, following the refusal of lots of money from a German Prince, Julie heads on a downward spiral. Here we see deeper and upsetting themes construed, giving the production more depth and complexity than previously expected. We’re reminded of the stark reality of her challenges and the flaws she hides behind her vibrant facade. She begins to flourish again after falling in love with ‘the most beautiful woman in France’, Marie.

Julie: The Musical is shamelessly chaotic, wildly farcical – and totally brilliant. Julie D’Aubigny was destined to become more than her infamous life and her extraordinary story is told perfectly in this energetic, fun and at times outright mad, musical. It’s refreshing to see stories like this told with such passion and sincerity, reminding us all that we should be nothing more than authentic and true to ourselves at all times.

Reviewer: Alison Baines

Reviewed: 21st June 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.