WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Other Palace RUN TIME: 2 hours and 20 minutes (including interval)
WHEN?: 20/10 (matinee) runs to 21/10 and doesn’t, now, transfer to the Ambassadors from 27/10
One of the themes of this new musical co-written by A1’s Ben Adams is striving for the best and it’s a message those involved with the show would do well to bear in mind.
- Read on for reasons including what we think should happen next for Eugenius
We saw it on the final Saturday matinee of a two-month run during which it was announced that it would transfer into the West End to the Ambassadors Theatre from 27/10. However, shortly after this news it was revealed that a backer had withdrawn and that the move was now no longer on the cards.
Eugenius has had an interesting history already: it was 1st performed at the Palladium in June 2016 with a starry cast including producer Warwick Davis, Amy Lennox, Summer Strallen, David Bedella and Marcus Brigstocke. None of those 5 were cast when it opened for its 1st run at the Other Palace from January to March earlier this year.
The Other Palace is 1 of our favourite theatres and the reason we haven’t seen this sooner is because we thought it was going to be far more sci-fi than it actually is. We did, however, download the soundtrack from iTunes and gradually fell in love with the 80s-inspired tunes.
Particularly memorable were She’s Amazing (think Michael Sembello’s Maniac), breakdancing Who’s That Guy? and Queen-inspired Hands Up.
The story is probably the least interesting thing about this musical. Geek Eugene (Rob Houchen is the show’s 3rd lead and we thought he was great) is bullied at school and dreams of writing comic books featuring his creation Tough Man while his friend Janey is secretly in love with him.
Things become complicated when Eugene’s dreams become Hollywood reality but are threatened when Tough Man’s brother Evil Lord Hector (Neil McDermott in fine, unhinged scenery-chewing mode) arrives uninvited on set with a score to settle.
Special mentions to Daniel Buckley who originated the part of Eugene’s best friend Feris and is especially memorable, very funny is Scott Paige as Hollywood talent scout Theo, Alison Arnopp is in fine voice and, making his professional debut, dancer Dillon Scott-Lewis marks himself out as a talent to watch out for in future.
Part of the show’s success is the repeat business it is doing with its most loyal fans, or Eugenies, and we can see why this is a show that inspires such devotion. It’s at its strongest when its music is evoking the 80s (‘the last 2 left on stage get to sing the 80s power ballad’) and with its consistently funny lines (‘Hey girls! better watch your back. I’ve got a Donkey Kong watch and a fanny pack.’)
What next for Eugenius? A West End transfer would still be well-deserved and perhaps the likes of Sharon D. Clarke, Amy Lennox and Joanne Clifton who feature on the soundtrack would be fine additions to a new cast.