Arts Reviews

Nativity! The Musical @ Theatre Royal

Rosa Morgan shares her thoughts on Nativity! The Musical at Theatre Royal

Dancing Christmas trees, sparkling stars, and smiles all around- Nativity! The Musical is the festive extravaganza that is guaranteed to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Based on the 2009 film directed by Debbie Isitt, Nativity! The Musical was adapted for the stage last year in London, and following its success is now currently on a UK tour before returning to London just in time for Christmas.

Based on St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School in Coventry, whose usual Nativity plays are not well received by the press or the community. However, things are set to change when teaching assistant, Mr Poppy comes in to give a helping hand. Nevertheless, in a stand-off with the local prep school, Oakmoor, Mr Maddens accidentally lets it slip that a Hollywood producer is going to attend St Bernadette’s Nativity play, when in actual fact this is a lie. The production conveys the preparation for the Nativity, as well as the actual Nativity itself.

“The set undoubtedly encapsulated the magic of Christmas”

Set and Costume Designer, David Woodhead, certainly did not hold back, with the stage being filled with glittery presents, flashing stars, and there being multiple costumes used throughout the performance. Woodhead was extremely clever in being able to connote a number of different places on the stage, including Mr Madden’s house, St Bernadette’s, Oakmoor, as well as the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, which were extremely impressive. The set undoubtedly encapsulated the magic of Christmas.

A special mention must be given to Simon Lipkin who played Mr Poppy, whose high energy levels, witty humour, and friendliness had the audience falling in love with him and laughing hysterically at all of his jokes. The script had been modernised since the 2009 film, and included references to popular culture, and Brexit, as well as incorporating lots of popular dance moves, including flossing and dabbing into the show. The modernisation definitely added to the humour; it made the show accessible to all ages of spectator within the audience.

“It was really lovely to watch the children perform something that they clearly love”

It was truly difficult to resist the cuteness of all of the children, and they should all be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved. Just as in the film, the stage production gave each child the opportunity to showcase their particular skills and talents, and it was really lovely to watch the children perform something that they clearly love. The children weren’t the only cute ones. Pepper, who played Mr Madden’s dog, Cracker, was truly charming. The most charming moment was when Cracker wore a donkey hat, and acted as the donkey, in the Nativity play itself.

The transitions between the scenes were seamless, with the first act ending with a child dressed as an aeroplane travelling across the stage space. The interval represented the flight duration between Coventry and Hollywood, with the second act beginning in Hollywood.

“The singing was faultless”

The musical numbers themselves were extraordinary and extremely catchy, with the original numbers from the film, including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, being included, as well as the addition of lots of new numbers, including ‘Hollywood are Coming’. The singing was faultless, and a special mention should be given to Ashleigh Gray, who plays Jennifer Lore, whose vocals were incredible.

One of the most beautiful moments in the production was in the Cathedral scene where the lights blew out, and the stage was consequently left in complete darkness. As well as the cast using LED candles at this point, Mr Poppy encouraged members of the audience to hold up their phone torches, which really brought the cast and the audience together. It was a lovely moment to be part of as an audience member.

Overall, Nativity! The Musical was incredible, being perfect for the festive season, and perfect for all of the family. The whole cast certainly did sparkle and shine! Nativity! The Musical is on at Theatre Royal until Sunday 25th November- don’t miss out on starting the festive season in the perfect way!


Rosa Morgan

Featured image author’s own. 

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