Reviewed by Nicola Wilkinson
There was lots of SPARKLE and SHINE at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth last night for the opening night of Nativity the Musical.
This production will certainly get you in the mood for Christmas with lots of non-stop singing and dancing and lots of sparkle.
To get you in the sprit Plymouth’s Theatre Royal has a very festive feel to it, with the Christmas lights on Royal Parade outside and the theatre looking lovely and festive inside it really sets the mood. It was so nice to see a good mixture of ages within the theatre which showed this production is for everyone.
This musical is based on Debbie Isitt’s hit film Nativity which she wrote and directed in 2009, after adding a few extra songs she then made it into a touring musical.
Following closely to the original film, the story is about three friends Mr Maddens (Scott Garnham), Jennifer Lore (Ashleigh Gray) and Gordon Shakespare (Charles Brunton) who grew up together as children. Mr Maddens and Jennifer became an item, however she leaves to pursue her dream job in Hollywood just as Mr Maddens is about to propose so he is left heartbroken and no longer liking Christmas.
With Mr Maddens now being a primary school teacher he is put in charge of arranging the Nativity at St. Bernadette’s primary school in Coventry but as he hates Christmas he is very grumpy about it. This is when we meet the childish classroom assistant Mr Poppy (played brilliantly by Scott Paige) It’s as if this role was made for him and played this role perfectly. Together they work hard to produce a spectacular production which due to a lie being spread around the village is staged at the Coventry Cathedral. It’s a fight with the rival production at Oakmoor Preparatory School to see who can get the most stars in the local paper, which is produced by old friend Mr Shakespeare. The three friends finally meet up again at the end.
Mr Poppy brings the real Mr Maddens out and you watch his love for the children he teaches grow and he really does believe in the children at St. Bernadette’s primary school who are less privileged than the children at Oakmoor Preparatory School.
This brings me onto my favourite scene where Mr Maddens is encouraged to read the letters to Santa that all the children have written, the children all appear on a bunk bed to sing their parts as if it was Christmas Eve waiting for Santa this is very touching.
All the children in the production were fantastic, well-polished with lots of confidence. It’s nice the production team also use local children as well as the cast children. A big shout out goes to Alexander Hogg who was just fantastic and made everyone laugh. All the children were natural performers with non-stop energy throughout the show and they all had lots of fun.
The one thing I liked was how up to date the script was, this must be something that changes regularly to keep in line with current affairs.
I would also like to mention Dani Dyer, she played her role well but it was a shame her role wasn’t as big as I thought it would be.
With lots of jokes for all ages, the show had the whole audience laughing along with people dancing in their seats, it’s a perfect start to Christmas.
Well done to all involved, it was a definite hit with both my boys ages 8 and 9, they are already asking if it was be back in Plymouth next Christmas.
Tickets cost from £16 to £52 (booking fees may apply).
Nativity! The Musical is at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 26-30 November 2019, 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