I think this was Stiles & Drew’s first show. It’s first production at the Tricycle Theatre, twenty years ago, was directed by Mike Ockrent no less and Cameron Macintosh was its godfather. I loved it, and amongst my fond memories is the appearance of a young Clive Rowe who’d impressed me in the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s end-of-year musical Girl Crazy – it may even have been his professional debut. It still strikes me as an impressive debut musical, with catchy tunes from Stiles and witty lyrics from Drew. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories, it’s more about the characterisation of the animals than it is about the simple story. In this production, it is mostly well sung, though the small band feels as if it’s in the room next door – well, it almost is, sitting behind a screen on a ‘shelf’ to the left of the stage. The performances too are mostly good – particularly by the three leads. Lee Greenaway is cute and charming as Elephant’s Child, Ian Knauer an authoritative presence as The Eldest Magician and I loved Lisa Baird’s feisty Glaswegian Kolokolo Bird. The Tabard is a small stage for 11 actors; unfortunately designer Christopher Hone has made it even more difficult for them by over-designing a two-tier set which restricts movement and adds little. In addition, the costumes, though clever, fail to create the magical animal world. So, a good show well performed but let down by the design and staging I’m afraid…..but worth a second look twenty years on. - Gareth James
06 Jan 11
WHAT A GREAT SHOW!!!
A Christmas must see! Excellent choreography and costumes! was laughing throughout! - Violetta
07 Dec 10
I think this is an excellent production with superb performances from all of the cast. The Parsee Cake Walk is an hilarious showstopper which had the whole audience laughing loudly. The children in the audience were captured by the magic of it, but equally those of us without children had plenty with which to be entertained - this is not a 'kids show' but a great musical for adults and children alike. I think the regional accents are a great touch and would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a thoroughly enjoyable trip to the theatre this Christmas. - Sarah Frain
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