Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews


Nativity The Musical

Jamie Wilson, Ramin Sabi, Entertainment One and Belgrade Theatre Coventer , Wales Millennium Centre , November 20, 2019
Nativity The Musical by Jamie Wilson, Ramin Sabi, Entertainment One and Belgrade Theatre Coventer	Mr Maddens, Jennifer and Mr Shakespeare tell us in song at the opening of the show that we are Going For The Big Time! after a fast paced opening of singing and dancing from a chorus of elves and fairies. They get things going with a big ‘Sparkle and Shine’

Teaching Assistant, Mr Poppy, is given a really warm hearted and hilariously captivating performance by Scott Paige. He drives the show along at a good pace. His highly amusing performance is very much in contrast with that of Scott Garnham’s Mr Maddens who is so much, just an ordinary sort of chap, but he does perk up when he shows us how much he is in love with Jennifer Lore, a strong but kind performance by Ashleigh Gray.

Much to Garnham’s long faced Maddens’ disappointment she goes off to Hollywood where everyone believes that she has become a successful film producer. We will catch up with her later in the story.

Our main concern, early in the narrative is the rivalry between Maddens who teaches at St Bernadette’s Comprehensive School in Coventry and the laid-back Mr Shakespeare , he is given a touch of the romantic by Charles Brunton. Shakespeare teaches at a posh Prep School who ‘won’ the laurels last year, with Brunton’s Nativity.

They have put themselves in a ‘fight’ to see who can stage the best Nativity play, with Brunton determined to take the plaudits this time.

It has been said that you should “never act with children or animals”. We get a good illustration of that here. The children are fantastic. St Bernadette’s kids kick off with a feisty number, telling us all about their lively school. Later we are charmed by Cracker The Dog charmingly played by Pepper The Dog.

The Oakmoor Prep kids come into their own in the second half where Mr Shakespeare leads them with a sudden surprising performance as the lead in Herod The Rock Opera !

An extraordinary suggestion arises that the show would be welcome in Hollywood, where they have a producer friend.

They fly off, obviously not first class. A stage hand holds a model aeroplane high above his head, walks across the stage. He walks back the other way when they return.

Mrs Bevan a surely headmistress is given a fine, surly performance by Penelope Woodman. Even she brightens up as things turn out so well.

Well not that well, Jennifer has only got as far as being an assistant to a producer, but she falls back in love with Maddens who is now beaming widely and back the model aeroplane goes.

A moving sense of quietness spreads over us all as Dani Dyer, who gives us an engaging performance as Polly Parker, leads the children as they sing together ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” with the children.

At times the five peace band, led by Dan Glover played very sensitively other times they sounded as if there was fifty of them in the pit.

We are given a huge ‘Sparkle and Shine’ ending as the whole company come together to sparkle and shine and invite to join in the song and wave our torches on our mobile phones, that spreads more magic throughout the whole of the auditorium.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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