Posts Tagged ‘Tom Scanlon’

You might not believe this. Sub-titled ‘A Musical Fairy Tale’, Tim Acito’s’s show is set in a US high school where everyone’s gay and their end-of-term musical is about the controversy of heterosexuals in the military. Zanna is the school matchmaking fairy. There’s a (girls) mechanical bull-riding team. It’s quirky, cheesy and cheeky, but it has its tongue in its cheek and its also colourful, energetic and fun.

Zanna waves his magic wand so that Steve, the quarterback saviour of the school team, and chess champion Mike fall in love and waitress-with-attitude Roberta gets together with top-of-the-class Kate. It all bounces along happily until the seemingly impossible happens and Steve falls for Kate (and vice versa). For once, Zanna’s spell backfires and everyone turns straight.

There are a few good songs in what is otherwise a fairly generic pop musical score. It’s often very funny, with a handful of musicals references (including the title) that help to gently send up the genre whilst sending up homophobia and the conformity of American high schools in general. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it has its heart in the right place and it’s a fun 105 minutes (though it doesn’t really sustain this length).

The creative team make things difficult for themselves by restricting the playing space with the audience on three sides and a small stage and the band on the fourth. It sometimes feels cramped; I felt Tom Scanlon’s choreography could have done with more space, and it means you sometimes miss lyrics if the character has their back to you while singing unamplified (though Zanna mysteriously grew a mic a few times). There are occasional moments when the flow is broken by a gap waiting for someone to come on. The production values, particularly Andrew Cox’s costumes, are high and the cast brims with energy and enthusiasm. The band seemed a bit muted, but without amplification for the singers that’s probably just as well.

It’s 12 years old now and in some ways it feels it. Its first London outing five years ago passed my by and I’m glad I caught it this time around. It’s an impressive first production for new producers Entourage. There’s always room for something different and fun.

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