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Theatre Review: [Title Of Show]

Title of show 620x400

Cast: Simon Bailey, Scott Garnham, Sophia Ragavelas, Sarah Galbraith, Michael Webborn

Synposis: Two struggling writers decide to create a new musical for the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival. With a three week deadline looming they decide to try and create the show of their dreams and their struggle to write a hit becomes the subject of the show.

If you like your theatre with a satirical edge, full of obscure musical references and an air of self-knowing then [title of show] is most definitely your cup of tea. A show within a show; the musical is the story of the production’s own entry into the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the creative process and what happens when success starts to cause rifts. The production was a hit on Broadway running for 115 performances and Hunter Bell was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. It’s been reprieved at the Landor Theatre to a nightly audience of just sixty with book creator Hunter Bell being played by Scott Garnham and lyricist Jeff Bowen played by Simon Bailey.

The cast create an intimacy with the audience from the first number and it feels like we are in on their secret; the show is great at side-glances and knowing winks making the audience feel part of the jokes (even if some of the more obscure theatre references sail over your head). With only five cast members, one of whom is the piano player who gets a few well-placed jokes (union approved!), a weak link would have been noticed immediately but the collective of these actors is a great achievement in ensemble casting. Scott Garnham and Simon Bailey construct a great relationship as the two nobodies in New York trying to become part of it all by writing an original musical. They bring along consistently-failing-at-auditions Heidi (Sophia Ragavelas) and succumbed-to-a-day-job Susan (Sarah Galbraith) for the ride and manage some well-imagined numbers including ‘die, vampire, die’ and ‘nine people’s favourite thing’.

At a running time of ninety minutes without an interval the show races along for the first hour or so with brilliant humour, self deprecation and in-jokes that will leave you gasping for air. The final twenty minutes, the inevitable come-down and moral of the story, feel slightly jarring against the first seventy and leave you wondering if you started watching a different show. The musical numbers are weaker, the acting more strained and the fidgeting began. A musical based on the writer’s creating that very musical; surely there’s no ending possible that will satisfy? With the notion of rather being true to themselves than sell to the masses the show fades into black in a subdued finish. Despite the strange structure [title of show] is a clever, fun and a greatly enjoyable watch that comes highly recommended.

[title of show] is playing until September 14th at the Landor Theatre and you can book tickets here

Originally from deep in the London suburbs Vicky is now enjoying the novelty of being able to catch a night bus home from anywhere in the city. Her favourite films are anything John Hughes is involved in, SAY ANYTHING and DEAD POETS SOCIETY. Don't mention the rumour she once served cold tea to Robert Webb and Olivia Coleman. Find her on twitter @chafferty

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