Nativity The Musical,
**** 4 Stars
“Sparkles with Festive Cheer”
The Festival theatre is kicking of the festive season of shows in style with this adaptation of the hit movie that’s touring around the country before returning to London for an extended Christmas run.
Telling the story of St Bernadette’s School in Coventry as they’re attempting to mount a musical version! of the age-old Nativity play. Only trouble is teacher Mr Maddens (Scott Garnham) has promised that a Hollywood producer is coming to see the show to turn it into a film. Entering the madness at the behest of the school’s head teacher, is teaching assistant the crazy Mr Poppy, (the sublime Simon Lipkin). Add to the mix the wacky and outstandingly talented kids of the school as they go up against the low expectations of their own friends and family and take on the snooty Mr Shakespeare and the kids from the private Belgrade oakmoor school. It’s a story of believing in oneself, beating the odds and shining as brightly as the stars on Christmas night.
This is a stellar production that’s designed to bring out the festive cheer in all of us and succeeds, especially in the lead casting, Simon Lipkin is a bundle of energy powering through act 1 at a dizzying rate, but his true acting talent shines in the quieter moments of act 2. Playing against Scott’s Garnham’s “Mr Maddens” is a thing of beauty, Mr Maddens has allowed his true love to leave him to per sue her dreams and he ends up becoming the “scrooge” type that finally changes his ways as he sees how much the Kids have come to mean to him it’s a true performance of the best of the Christmas message.
The leads are joined by a stellar ensemble cast bringing comedy, pathos and musical hi-jinx’s to life easily. The production also features a rotation of guest celebrity stars which for Edinburgh is the comedy legend Jo Brand, who delivers in spades as “The Critic” taking pot shots at those like my good self who search endlessly for the hallowed 5 stars.
Writer and Director Debbie Isitt has delivered the goods big style putting the adult and children’s casts through there paces added to David Woodhead’s sparkling set and costume design that’s given real sparkle with Tim Mitchells lighting Design. Choreographer Andrew Wright is given some seriously talented kids to work with as they back flip and execute the dance with a professional eye for detail.
They only real draw back is Tom Marshalls sound designs is set just a tad to loud to rock concert levels during the musical numbers and its obvious the small pit band are relying on the click track especially on the percussion side that leans towards the synthetic side.
The show is not scared of breaking the forth wall and the most charming moment comes when sabotage see’s the power cut off right in the middle of the nativity performance and Mr Poppy asks the audience to light up their mobile phones and light the stage. Its truly a magical moment that allows the audience to totally embrace the production.
The show is superbly paced and never drags, and you just can’t help but be caught up in the Christmas, Spirit, so for a Christmas gift of a show that sparkles with festive cheer you had better book those tickets now!
Nativity the Musical, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Runs until Sunday 2nd December, for tickets go to: https://www.capitaltheatres.com/whats-on/nativity