Reviewed by Linda Curtain
SPARKLE AND SHINE! There was certainly plenty of both at the Theatre Royal Plymouth last evening for the opening night of Nativity the Musical. Based on Debbie Isitt’s hit film Nativity, this is a brilliant production to bring the festive feeling to Plymouth in the run up to Christmas.
Arriving at the Theatre Royal last evening, set amongst the twinkling Christmas lights that adorn Royal Parade, it was lovely to see how the theatre had been transformed for the festive period with beautiful Christmas trees and the cafe serving Christmas themed beverages. With an atmosphere of expectation and excitement from the large, near – sell-out audience, Nativity! The Musical certainly seemed to have attracted the Plymouth theatre goers.
Following closely to the original film, the story is basically about three friends who met and grew up together before going their separate ways – two to become teachers and one to follow the bright lights of Hollywood. They all meet up again as the years pass – each with their own story to tell.
Grumpy Mr Maddens (played by Daniel Boys) is a primary school teacher who hates Christmas after splitting with his long-term girlfriend Jennifer at Christmastime. When he is put in charge of arranging the Nativity at St. Bernadette’s primary school in Coventry, he soon falls under the charm and enthusiasm of childish classroom assistant Mr Poppy (played brilliantly by Simon Lipkin). Together they work to produce an extravaganza to rival the production always produced by old friend Mr Shakespeare (played by Andy Brady) at Oakmoor Preparatory School. Mr Maddens has a challenge on his hands but with determination and encouragement by all, a spectacular show is staged at Coventry Cathedral.
With lots of childish jokes interspersed with adult humour, the show had the audience young and old laughing along but also sharing some sensitive, emotional moments. Many new songs have been added to the production and Jennifer (played by Sarah Earnshaw) had a beautiful voice.
Of course, the evening was stolen by the brilliant children who are such a vital part of the story. With 27 children touring with the company and working in three teams, their confidence and stage presence really shone out. Such natural performers with non-stop energy throughout the show. A special mention must be made to the back-stage dressers who coped so well with numerous quick costume changes.
With spectacular scenery, good stage effects and a four-legged actor to add the cute factor, Nativity! The Musical was certainly a hit with the Theatre Royal audience last evening, with a well-deserved standing ovation.
A sparkling, feel good production. The enthusiasm and commitment shone out of each and every person on the stage. The perfect pre-Christmas show.
A well-earned five-star rating.
Tickets cost from £16 to £48 (booking fees may apply).
Nativity! The Musical is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 6-10 December 2017, for more information or to book tickets visit www.theatreroyal.com or call the box office on 01752 267222.
Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, PL1 2TR | 01752 267222