WORTH A LOOK?: **
WHERE: Phoenix Theatre
WHEN: 31/1, runs to 22/4
When we ask at the bar why this new musical’s soundtrack is not available to buy in the foyer we’re told it has something to do with the charity it is fundraising for. Which seems unlikely.
- Read on for reasons including why Michele Dotrice is the best reason to see this
It’s never a good sign when you go to see a new musical and they’re not trying to flog you a permanent reminder and its unique selling point at every opportunity. Much less when it’s impossible to find in the only venue staging it.
It seems churlish to criticise The Girls, its calendar, film or play, because it has raised £5 million for charity Bloodwise, formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and, for anyone unfamiliar, is the story of Women’s Institute members who dare to bare in a saucy calendar to raise money for a charity after a friend dies.
Turning the story into a musical helmed by Take That songwriter Gary Barlow looks like a good idea on paper, it’s just, perhaps, that it’s all a little too familiar and cosy and a world away from musical theatre’s current cutting edge, arguably Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Eminem-style Hamilton.
We’d expect a more memorable score from Barlow as, although Yorkshire and Scarborough successfully set the scene, it’s only really the tongue-in-cheekery of Who Wants A Silent Night? that we can remember after first listen.
Barlow, we suspect, has better in him. His Peter Pan musical Finding Neverland has already graced Broadway and is expected here soon.
It’s a joy to see Michele Dotrice in the cast, perhaps best remembered as Frank Spencer’s long-suffering wife Betty in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, but as recently as last year nominated for an Olivier in Nell Gwynn.
The predominantly middle-aged and female cast have a riot with the material but for us it all felt a little like a dishcloth that had perhaps been wrung out one time too many.