Nativity! The Musical: Review

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A present awaits you at The Regent as Nativity! The Musical comes to town.

Set in St. Bernadette’s Roman Catholic Primary School, Coventry, Mr Maddens (played by Scott Garnham) has the laborious task of putting on the Nativity play for the school. The somewhat failed actor has been left behind by his wannabe Hollywood hot-shot girlfriend, Jennifer (Ashleigh Gray) and has gone into teaching. Since his last attempt at the school’s Nativity for which he received a minus two-star rating from the local paper, Mr Maddens has vowed never to direct the school play again! Especially against his old pal, now nemesis, Gordon Shakespeare (Andy Brady) who always seems to get the five-star review – a drama teacher’s golden dream!

It’s a little white lie that ends Mr Maddens in a whole heap of bother and creates the enigmatic playful mayhem of the production.

This festive feel-good is one for all the family both with its romantic plot and a will-it-happen Nativity that stems hilarity with every scripted (or non-scripted joke). It’s funny for all ages because jokes about the Kardashians, Catherine Zeta-Jones and other naughty innuendos fly over the children’s heads leaving the adults cackling (especially if you are the woman sat behind me!). However, it’s not just naughty but nice as innocent gags and perfect comedic timing allow the characters to make even the tiniest tot chortle.

Nativity Simon Lipkin as Mr Poppy

         Simon Lipkin as Mr Poppy

The hilarity is helped even further by the slightly chaotic, and probably a teacher’s worst nightmare, Mr Poppy, the new teaching assistant at St Bernadette’s. Mr Poppy, excellently played by Simon Lipkin, was the star on top of the Christmas tree. A true stand-out scene stealer. His embodiment of Mr Poppy is pitch perfect. Dealing with non-scripted mishaps, a door sticking, a missing Mary and a wonky donkey head on the dog Cracker (played by the adorable Pepper) shows how right Lipkin is to play the part as the off-handed comments made the already funny script even better. He really is the gift that just keeps on giving. When Mr Shakespeare sneaks up for some revenge on Mr Madden it is Mr Poppy and his break of the fourth wall between audience and production that beautifully lit up The Regent Theatre as audience members were asked to use the torches on their phones to keep the play going.

Emmerdale’s Adam Thomas brought the star attraction to the musical playing the part of Hollywood Producer, Mr Parker. Rising with the story arch, Thomas came in as the baddie at just the right time. However, if you take into account the dodgy American accent, and a slightly baggy suit it was probably a good thing the Hollywood producer didn’t have too many lines or scenes.

The swift change of scene is helped by unique and fun staging. A plane hat worn by a little girl carried across the stage, singing Christmas trees and a bottomless present which produced child after child after child connected the musical from the big hit production it is to a simple tale of a school’s attempt at a Nativity play. It allowed for an adventure to take place on the stage like playing with your new toys at Christmas.

The real stars of the show were, of course, the school children. Dancing, singing and acting their little hearts out they children obviously enjoyed what they were doing and suited their roles to the T. Sparkling and shining through the scenes your attention was drawn to the hilarious antics of the kids like the wise men following the star.

It really is the best gift waiting for you. It’s like finding a present hiding at the back of the tree, the bang of a cracker a bauble or the perfect scissor glide across the paper. There is nothing more spirit-lifting than a festive musical to get you in a Christmassy mood, just in time for the seasonal magic to start. So, stop wrapping your presents, finding your novelty snowman Christmas jumper and stringing the tinsel around the tree to GO AND SEE THIS PLAY!

Nativity! The Musical is at The Regent Theatre, Hanley from 5 to 8 December 2018 with selected signed and audio described performances. See website for tickets. 

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