Having interviewed the cast and crew of Musicality’s Wild West End last week I was pleased to see that the production is exactly what it says on the tin. Full of nods to the musical theatre business and its most loved productions the director, James McAndrew has brought Matt Leventhal and Adam Paulden’s script to life with quirkiness and energy. From Abu Hamza to Khloe Kardashian Wild West End is cutting in wit with its use of current affairs and media focused gags whilst remaining loyal to its musical roots.
Before the show even started the audience found themselves singing along to the familiar songs being played into the auditorium, a groan erupting from their mouths as the Lion King’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ faded out ready for the play to start. Musical numbers included re-wordings of ‘Close Every Door to Me’ from Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables and ‘Who Will Buy’ from Oliver! amongst others. The fantastic lyric changes mastered by Ed Clarke and Andrew Doyle did nothing but enhance the famous riffs, making the musicals numbers infinitely funnier and relatable.
I was promised a laugh per minute and I was not disappointed with Kat Tye’s portrayal of a bitter Mufasa and Sophie Tebbutt’s rather wanton rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow’. As for Greg Link who played, among other roles, the phantom of the Opera, his performance as perhaps the campest phantom in town added spark and frivolity to a traditionally morose character. Lawrence Haynes’s Jackie was both endearing and heroic in his quest for success and, most importantly, his voice was flawless.
The play struck me very much as a parody of the sickly sweet nature of musical theatre productions, in no way shying away from this fact. The script constantly refers to fickleness of the business and its frustrating nuances, as well as reminding the audience what it is they love about it. One thing is for sure; it is a musical for adults. The language is punchy and the swearing is of the bluest variety, however all occasions result in laughs and shock at the idea that little Dorothy from Kansas would even know such words.
The set might not be anything special, it understandably lacks the glitz of its West End peers, but the sheer comedic elements of the performance and the standard of musical talent makes this show worth watching. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Wild West End however is how collaborative of a project the production is. With three of the four actors playing multiple roles, their pianist adopting an on-stage position throughout and Sophie Tebbutt also choreographing the show as well (with a very pleasing level of west end pizazz I might add) it is clear that Wild West End is very much a joint effort.
It’s one downfall is a slightly inferior plot line in the face of such high quality musical numbers but, for lovers of all things musical theatre, Wild West End certainly provides humour, great vocal talents and the revue-style show it promises.
Wild West End runs until 9th February with a Saturday Matinee at 3pm and evening doors at 8pm. Contact [email protected] for tickets.