It is no shock that ‘The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)’ is in fact, a musical by Joanne Bogart and Eric Rockwell. The show premiered off-Broadway in 2003 and went on to tour around London, Australia, Canada and America. It is a brilliant to see that a show like this has now made its way to our very own Hope Street Theatre in Liverpool.
From the get-go, it is apparent that Jordan Alexander (musical director) is a musical genius on the piano as he begins playing the opening score with vigor and charm. This complex musical score barely stops for the full duration of the production and his talents lays excellent foundations for this musical creation.
The thinking behind this show is unusual in that it promotes the idea that there is ‘nothing new here’. There is a loose plot which in a nutshell is that June (Tori Hargreaves) cannot pay her rent to landlord Jitter (John-Paul Birss). June relies on her love interest Willy (Dominc Treacy) to help her in this desperate time of need while she also seeks advice and support from Abby (Eithne Brown). The final cast member is the Narrator (Amy Leek) who supports the audience as we journey through a fascinating night of genres and styles.
This star-studded cast were simply excellent! I particularly enjoyed Willy’s strong vocals which worked so well when coupled with June’s sweet tones and perplexed facial expressions. Abby brought all the humour and wasn’t afraid to ‘go there’ to the amusement of the audience. Jitter’s performance was brilliantly animated, and the narrator really made the most of her role, showcasing talented vocals and choreography throughout. There were no weak links within this group of performers and each of them shone at different moments throughout this rather complicated and interesting show.
The show is broken down into sections, each focusing on a different era of musical theatre. We start off with the classics of Rodgers and Hammerstein and then make our way through the works of Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb. I believe the show is extremely well written and possibly too well written to the point where some of the humour went over my head. The show has been so well thought through, there is satire and sarcasm in bucketfuls but you have to have the knowledge and understanding to get it all! It is not enough to just ‘like musicals’, I believe this show will be best enjoyed by those who have studied the writers and can recognise every note and joke. It is not one for the masses and I think the less familiar you are with musicals, the more lost you might get.
In saying this, the quality within the intricate harmonies, the well rehearsed dance numbers and the overall production was very apparent. There are many moments of brilliance and creative team have made it a joy to watch which is not easy given the huge diversity within this demanding show. Director Sharon Byatt was brave in taking on this difficult piece of theatre, but the execution was smooth and effective.
A big congratulations to Laffan Productions for their mammoth debut performance. ‘The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)’ is truly excellent for the right audience.
Reviewer: Blathine Maguire
Reviewed: 26th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★