Wednesday, December 6

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies! – Barn Theatre

Ready, player one? In a concept devised by Ryan Carter, an eclectic roster of musical theatre’s best-loved female personalities unites for a unique character select screen-style production.

For each of the five ‘levels’, a trio of leading ladies and their song titles are displayed, and it’s up to the viewer to pick who takes to the stage. This is a really fun opportunity to relive some of your favourite musical tunes or experience something completely new. If it’s too difficult to decide, though, an automatic selection is made after 45 seconds.

Exploring the mysterious venue she has been invited into, the first performer then breaks into song. This might well be Jarnéia Richard-Noel who gives an attention-grabbing rendition of ‘I Didn’t Plan It’ as Waitress’ Janet. Her smooth voice complements the jaunty piano number: this along with the brick wall backdrop contributes to a blues bar sort of vibe.

There are playful, cleverly shot interactions in between acts that add charm and some plot to the piece. This is a virtual world in which all musical theatre characters co-exist, and so well-mannered heroines clash with egotistical villainesses as they try to work out who brought them to this perplexing place.

Ellie Mitchell smashes the high score with her portrayal as Mama from Chicago. She fulfils the Matron’s loud, self-assured persona with her sultry facial expressions and pitch-perfect notes all the way through ‘When You’re Good to Mama’.

From crowns to ruby heels, thoughtful accessories provide a little bit of on-stage magic to the actresses’ outfits.

It may be Emma Kingston who concludes your campaign with a heartfelt performance of ‘Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad’ from Bonnie & Clyde. That’s not to say it’s Game Over yet, though, as the whole cast collaborate on an uplifting finale, providing the audience with an opportunity to appreciate every talented woman involved.

Sound Engineer Harry Smith and Musical Consultant Leo Munby ensure that the songs are presented in brilliant, crisp quality and offer a diverse choice of genres to please everybody.

With over 150 possible combinations, this intimate interactive concert has immense replay value.

Playing online until 7th March 2021 with a running time of 30 minutes

Reviewer: Scot Cunningham

Reviewed: 20th February 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★