[title of show]
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Phoenix Arts Club, London
Cast: George Crawford, Abbie Budden, Mary Moore, Ben Ward, Thomas Oxley, Melissa McCabe, and Owen Arkrow

[title of show] was originally produced on Broadway by Kevin McCollum, Jeffery Seller, Roy Miller, Laura Camien, Kris Stewart, Vineyard Theatre, and LAMS Productions at the Lyceum Theatre, where it opened on July 17, 2008. Originally Produced by the Vineyard Theatre, New York City, February 2006. [title of show] was originally presented by Bridge Club Productions at the 2004 New York Musical Theatre Festival.

With music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen, a book by Hunter Bell and under the direction and produced by Taylor Jay, [title of show] had a taste of London for two nights, at the Phoenix Arts Club.

With an intimate setting such as the Phoenix Arts Club, as the audience you really feel immersed with the actors as they bring you along their journey of getting a musical to Broadway. With a simple set of four chairs and a piano, these extraordinary artists let you in on the chaos that ensues in trying to create a show in three weeks for a mega festival in the Big Apple. Chaos but in the best way possible, which as a filmmaker and photographer myself, I related to all too well.

As mentioned, the set was simply four chairs and a piano with the backdrop sometimes becoming a screen for filming pieces throughout the story. At the performance I attended Owen Arkrow played the role of Jeff. Arkrow’s portrayal of Jeff was incredible. The chemistry between him and George Crawford as Ben worked immensely well. They really played well off one another. This also goes for Mary Moore as Susan and Abbie Budden as Heidi. This cast made it seem effortless and it was easy for the audience to imagine and be immersed into what the cast was telling.

It really is not easy to create something, let alone within a three week timeframe. It can be done as the story proves, but it comes with a lot of elements that can test you. This whole cast both vocally and acting wise, shined. Ben Ward not only played Larry who has a handful of lines, but was musical director for the production; a master at his trade.

Pacing is a massive thing for me and whilst this show did well pacing wise, I felt that it did drop slightly after the festival scenes. Understanding the nature of the show, the drop in pace and flow might have been intentional. However, I felt as though there were buffer/filler scenes which interrupted the fluidity of the show. I was pleased that the flow picked up and made a full circle by the end. If this show was any longer than 75 minutes, it could easily lose its touch.

[title of show] gives audiences a humorous glimpse of what it can take to create the result they see on stage, or even screen. Whilst it was fun, it also showcased the hardships, but reminds you to remember your ‘why’ and that sometimes the big goal of Broadway (or West End) is not impossible, but takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and passion. Don’t give up just because the first run was short. I really hope this is not the last that the UK sees of this production. 

You can find out more about this production, here.

Review by Dani

**photo credit: Danny Kaan**

No comments