Review: A New Musical In Concert
‘How do you make your voice heard in a world that wants to keep you quiet?’ Olivia Hylto is still not entirely sure.
A New Musical In Concert follows the story of Jake – James Daly – a budding musician who struggles to come into his own against the backdrop of a struggling London borough.
Well received by the audience, I couldn’t help but notice the production lacked an authentic depiction of the London that I grew up in. Although the musical numbers were very catchy and extremely strong vocally, they were also somewhat cheesy and failed to include even the slightest hint of the Grime scene which is very popular in London. Moreover, I was disappointed by the lack of diversity in the cast considering that London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. As one fellow theatregoer put it: “Since when was London full of white people carrying knives?”
Nonetheless, the play had moments of hilarity such during one of the school scenes when the finer things in life appeared to include ‘caviar and napkins’. Stand out performances of the night include the ever-talented James Daly, who in the words of composer Ryan Rodrigues is ‘gonna be someone’ and Ella Jenkinson whose ADC debut as Jess (possibly the love interest of Jake, although this wasn’t entirely clear) was fantastic. Caroline Sautter gave a heart-wrenching performance as Jake’s mum, during ‘Jackie’s Tale’ which provided the audience with her backstory. Thomas Taplin played the role of Kyle (the gang leader) very convincingly, while also managing to channel Kenickie from Grease equally well. There was also a strong vocal performance from Colm Talbot during the opening number.
The debut performance of A New Musical In Concert was intended to give the audience a ‘feel of what the full show could be like’ through ‘partially staged scenes’ and this was evident. At times I found myself confused with the direction that the musical was going in. For example the, link between a surprise party in which the police showed up and the cheerful number ‘Good Morning Sunshine’ was not entirely clear. Additionally, the set was somewhat bare and the changes between scenes were not always seamless with the sound of chairs being removed and replaced somewhat audible and visible.
Nonetheless, the teaser of A New Musical In Concert was enjoyable and I look forward to seeing what the full-length musical has to offer.