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Review: [Title of Show], Phoenix Arts Club

Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s one act musical [Title of Show] tells the true story of four people creating a musical… about four people creating a musical. It recalls the tale of its own creation and each of the four characters is based on the real life team that originated the show, Jeff, Hunter, Susan, and Heidi, along with Larry the pianist and musical director. The Phoenix Arts Club is the perfect venue to stage this intimate four person show. The musical itself states that it only requires four chairs and a keyboard and that is exactly what is…

Summary

Rating

Unmissable!

A hilarious production of a clever, brilliantly written musical that fantastically displays the vocal and comedic talents of its cast!

Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s one act musical [Title of Show] tells the true story of four people creating a musical… about four people creating a musical. It recalls the tale of its own creation and each of the four characters is based on the real life team that originated the show, Jeff, Hunter, Susan, and Heidi, along with Larry the pianist and musical director.

The Phoenix Arts Club is the perfect venue to stage this intimate four person show. The musical itself states that it only requires four chairs and a keyboard and that is exactly what is used. The brilliance of this production is the way movement and simple direction is used throughout songs and dialogue to create humour and at times poignant, emotional moments. The use of choreography involving playbills during ‘Monkeys and Playbills’ is particularly impressive.

Abbie Budden and Mary Moore are incredibly funny throughout as the contrasting ‘secondary characters’ Heidi and Susan. Moore is both vocally and comedically excellent in the song ‘Die Vampire Die!’ and Budden sings the heartfelt ‘A Way Back to Then’ with emotion and lovely vocals. Both interact with George Crawford and Thomas Oxley, playing Hunter and Jeff, with great energy and humour and the four create beautiful harmonies in every ensemble number.

All of the characters are particularly funny as they continuously break the fourth wall: questioning why they haven’t had a line sooner, why moving a chair demonstrates the passing of time when accompanied by transition music but not when silent, and whether they should wrap up a scene more quickly as it’s getting a bit boring. This is, I think, one of the best written books in modern musical theatre and the cast use it to create a hilarious show perfectly.

Ben Ward is also very amusing as Larry. Part musician/part fifth cast member he plays the quiet pianist in the group, contributing funny one-liners occasionally and often being ignored despite playing the entire score and not once leaving the stage.

Crawford and Oxley are an engaging, heartwarming, and incredibly funny duo, as they work together to write the music and lyrics of their new show. They debate the purpose of creating art: is it for the money, is it for the recognition and awards (specifically the Tonys! which is highlighted in the aptly named ‘The Tony Award Song’), is it simply to create something brilliant and have a great time doing it, or is it a combination of them all? The answer is probably the latter, with the show demonstrating that it is okay to want the financial stability, the fame, and the accolades but that ultimately you have to create something you like and are proud of. This leads to the beautiful penultimate number ‘Nine People’s Favourite Thing’. With stunning harmonies from the cast, they conclude that they would rather their show was ‘nine people’s favourite thing, than 100 people’s ninth favourite thing’. It goes on to say that those nine people will tell nine people and that that is how great, successful shows often begin – as has been demonstrated by lots of new British musicals such as Operation Mincemeat, Six, and My Son’s A Queer, which started at fringe festivals and made their way to the West End.

I’m pleased to report that after watching this fantastic production of [Title of Show], performed by an amazingly talented cast, I am a huge fan! It’s a brilliant 90 minute performance of a hilarious and incredibly written show that demonstrates the trials and tribulations of creating a new musical, and why creating art is so important!

I’m counting this review as me telling nine other people about the phenomenal work of this cast and team. Now, we only need eight more.


Music & Lyrics by: Jeff Bowen
Book by: Hunter Bell

Produced by: Taylor Jay Productions

[Title of Show] has completed its current run.

About Lucy Boardman

Lucy is a 22 year old living in London that loves theatre! She studied History at the University of Nottingham and enjoyed researching how historical events such as politics, strikes and union disputes are portrayed through theatre! Her favourite genre is musical theatre, which she performed in, directed and produced whilst at University! Her favourite musicals are currently Six, Les Mis and Matilda! She is so excited to be able to review some great shows, to share her love of theatre, and to enjoy more plays and new theatre!!