Zanna, Don’t!, Upstairs at the Gatehouse

Set in a fantasy world where everybody is gay and heterosexuality is regarded as taboo, Zanna, Don’t! is a musical with a none too subtle message.

Mike Shearer makes an endearing Zanna, a magical matchmaker who cannot help interfering in his friends’ relationships, while being content to retire home alone to play with his magic wand. As two of his friends embark upon an illicit straight affair, Shearer succeeds in keeping the audience on side, even during the most absurd plot points.

The musical numbers come thick and fast, performed with gusto by the 12-strong cast. Unfortunately, sound levels are such that the three-piece band often drowns out the vocal accomplishments. Nowhere is this more disappointing than in the number Fast, where the vocal dexterity required of the singers goes unheard.

Amongst a strong cast, Bonnie Hurst stands out as the feisty Roberta. In her first professional role, she clearly has much potential.

If the plot of Zanna, Don’t! was played ‘straight’, its story would be trite and hackneyed. So too it is here, once the novelty of its format twist wears off. That clearly has not stopped the cast and creative team from delivering the best musical they can.

_Reviewed for [The Stage](

**Upstairs at the Gatehouse, London**, June 9-July 5
**Authors:** Tim Acito, with additional book and lyrics by Alexander Dinelaris
**Director:** Joseph C Walsh
**Producer:** Wild Oats Productions
**Cast includes:** Mike Shearer, Michael Cotton, Kate Malyon, Michael Stacy, Bonnie Hurst, Nadeem Crowe
**Running time:** 2hrs

Author: Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.