Reviewed by Louise Edwards
Identical is a brand new musical which last night had its world premiere at the Nottingham Playhouse, where it runs until 14 August 2022.
Based upon the novel, The Parent Trap by Erich Kastner, and set in Europe – mainly Munich and Vienna as the original book was, the production of Identical follows the story closely. Directed By the legendary Trevor Nunn and with music and lyrics by award winning musical theatre partnership Stiles and Drewe, expectations were high and certainly didn’t disappoint.
Lisa and Lottie (tonight played by Savanna and Sienna Robinson, though there are three sets of twins who rotate) are identical twins separated at birth when their parents basically took one baby each to raise. We meet the girls now aged 10 and with no idea of each others existence, at Summer camp, when their initial hostility (as they are shocked at their remarkable similarity) softening into a sisterly bond as they realise they share more than the same face.
They make a plan to swop parents on their return home so that each can get to know the parent they didn’t know they had.
Lisa, feisty, creative and brave, raised by her musical father, Johan (played by James Darch), in Vienna, who is a conductor in an orchestra and lives a grand life with housekeeper Rosa (played by Lousie Gold) and close friend Dr Strobl (played by Michael Smith-Stewart), is to return home as Lottie to live with their mother, Lisalotte, a cash strapped writer who works long hours and relies heavily on Lottie to run the home and cook the meals.
Lottie, quiet, musical and studious, will live with her father and get used to a different lifestyle where she no longer has to share a room with her mother and can nurture her talents.
The girls swap the essential life information they need to know and make a plan to call each other on a Friday with an update on how things are going.
Each twins different personality comes through from the very beginning and as the story unfolds we see each come into their own, surprising their new parent with extra dimensions as Lisalotte goes camping with Lisa (something Lottie hates) and Lottie loves going to watch her father conduct a ballet (something Lisa hates).
Obviously everything doesn’t run smoothly and when Johan develops a love interest with his star ballerina, Miss Gerlach, played by Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson, Lisa is determined to put a stop to it.
The acting and singing from such young talents is remarkable. There are a total of 21 songs and the show includes comedy, ballet and catchy tunes you will be singing all the way home. There are goosebump moments where you shed a tear and other times when you laugh out loud. The show is a refreshing musical that for me on par with the best productions you expect to see in the West End, which I would hope it will be heading to soon. We loved every minute and although it is pretty long (2 hours 50 minutes including a 20 minute interval) it really does keep you captivated and entertained.
The set and stage are ever changing yet seamlessly done with video backdrop adding to the atmosphere to create energy and that real Broadway experience.
The Nottingham Playhouse is located in the city centre, a short walk from the main attractions. There is plenty of on street parking (payable by phone) and a bar with limited snacks.
Tickets cost from £19.50
Identical is at the Nottingham Playhouse until Sunday 14 October 2022
For more information or to book tickets visit https://nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk/events/identical/ or call the box office on 0115 941 9419
Nottingham Playhouse. Wellington Circus, Nottingham, NG1 5AF
Further tour dates can be found here.