There is occasionally some snobbery about musicals, but I’ve never understood why. I’ll unashamedly say that I love them. Musical theatre has brought a huge amount of joy into my life. From attempting to sing and dance in a school production of 42nd Street, to finding my preferred spot in the pit with my violin. During this last year I’ve filled the theatre shaped hole in our lives by spending a lot of time watching clips of my favourite shows and listening to soundtracks, often with tears in my eyes.
I didn’t need to read much more than the show’s title, I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical, to know it was for me. The show covers the trials and tribulations of West End actors’ careers, from emerging fresh faced out of drama school and attending endless auditions to the moment that the name in lights is yours. If you’re as much of a fan of musical theatre as I am, you’ll really enjoy the multitude of references to other shows throughout – let’s compare notes and see how many you spotted!
The music and lyrics, by Alexander S. Bermange, are brilliantly entertaining throughout. A particularly funny section was about the “inevitable overblown dance routine” in which we witness the cast perform a ludicrous dance, becoming increasingly out of breath as they get more and more frustrated. Other amusing moments include a reflection on the first time that you step onto “a legendary stage with an over-paying audience” and, when perhaps the novelty of success wears off; “That’s the matinee done. Now you’ve got to do it all again this evening”.
The cast are all exceptionally talented, which isn’t a surprise given their own West End credentials. Luke Bayer, Charlotte O’Rourke, Lucas Rush and Charlotte Anne Steen have fantastic chemistry that shines through, it’s clear how much they are enjoying this tongue in cheek look at their industry. Lucas Rush is particularly funny throughout, his comic timing spot on, whilst Charlotte O’Rourke is hilarious in mimicking the vocals of someone less talented than she so obviously is; her Florence Foster Jenkins impersonation is spot on.
The production values of this performance are another highlight. The minimal camera movement which makes it feel more like a stage show, but it still feels polished with close ups or camera movements used effectively.
Despite the criticisms of life as a West End star, the overarching theme of the show is a love of musical theatre. This is particularly prevalent in the final scene which felt incredibly poignant. All four cast members are sitting in the empty audience seats with their backs to camera, looking at the King’s Head Theatre’s ghost light. They then take their places around the light and sing about why they love musical theatre so much and what it means to them despite all the challenges. It is moving to share this moment with artists who will have been so significantly affected by the closure of theatres, there is a real feeling of solidarity. Rest assured, I’ll be one of the first back in those seats as soon as we all safely can.
Composer & Lyricist, Musical Director, Co-Arranger: Alexander S. Bermange
Director & Choreographer: Chris Whittaker
Co-Arranger: Jerome van den Berghe
Produced by: King’s Head Theatre and Spectacular
I Wish My Life Were A Musical is available to stream from King’s Head TV until 12 May. Booking information can be found on their website via the below link.