Jest End’s sideswipes at London’s most loved (or at least best known) musicals may be affectionate, but no punches are pulled.
Taking well known melodies and fashioning humorous lyrics around them is a joke that works throughout, thanks to the acuity and skill of the satire. It also helps that all four cast members are exceptionally strong vocally.
The show works best when it deals with current shows – references to Phill Jupitus’ Hairspray role and John Barrowman’s turn in La Cage aux Folles are both acknowledged. Indeed, it is Chris Thatcher’s portrayal of Barrowman, along with similarly wicked send-ups of Michael Ball and Cameron Mackintosh, that steals the show. The latter is part of a sequence of numbers that uses Oliver! to mine a rich seam of material, whether of producers reviving old adaptations, or hard-working actresses being overlooked in favour of reality TV show winners.
One or two numbers feel a little dated, such as a number about Jersey Boys usurping Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward. And ironically, it is a song about the West End’s numerous flops that strikes the only duff note of the evening. But these are small issues in an evening full of riotous comedy.
Jermyn Street, London
November 17-December 20
Author/director: Garry Lake
Producer: Jest End Productions
Cast: Jodie Jacobs, Laura Brydon, Chris Thatcher, Stuart Matthew Price
Running time: 1hr 40mins
* Reviewed for The Stage