Review: Nativity! the Musical at the Wolverhampton Grand

Writer, Composer & Director: Debbie Isitt

Composer: Nicky Ager

Musical Supervisor & Orchestration: George Dyer

This year marks the third tour of Nativity! The Musical, but instead of wheeling out the same production year after year Writer, Director and Co-composer Debbie Isit continues to update the musical with relevant references and adds a different story arc that contributes to this already superb, warm-hearted production.

Dani Dyer plays Polly Parker, head of Parker Pictures. Dyer is a caricature drama queen that underneath has a heart of gold. Dyer has a natural charm about her and she has a really sweet moment towards the end of the show with one of the young actors.  This role previously was filled by a man and by switching the gender, it unlocks further character development for what was once quite a 2D character.  It’s good to see a successful British musical still trying so hard to explore different important topics in order to ensure this one remains fresh and topical

Isitt’s script is as fun as ever. It contains a warm story and humour that kids will like, but at the same time, it contains some brilliant adult humour that will fly over the heads of the kids in the audience. It makes the piece universally entertaining for the whole family.

Scott Garnham returns to the role of Mr Maddens for the second year and he nails the role of the grumpy teacher who remains affected by being left with a broken heart at Christmas. Graham has a natural authoritative tone with the young cast members, while he also shows that underneath there’s a heart that needs mending.

As a polar opposite, you then have Scott Paige stepping into the role of Mr Poppy, a down with the kids, impulsive creative thinker. Paige has boundless energy and can switch from making you laugh to making you tear up in seconds. He has a natural high spirited persona that shines through. Paige and Garnham are an awesome pairing and bounce off each other throughout.

Taking on the role of Gordon Shakespeare is Charles Brunton. Brunton previously played Miss Trunchball in Matilda and in many ways that character has echos on his portrayal of Gordon. He hams up the snobby attitude the role requires and plays him as a camp failed actor who clearly wants a life on the stage, rather than a classroom.

Ashleigh Gray stars in the role of Jennifer and has a beautiful voice. Gray shows a really sincere performance in the role as she is torn between a dream and also her true feelings.

Alongside a large cast of adults, there’s an equally large number of talented kids on stage, some of which have been picked from the local community to play in their home town. They complete the show with their larger than life enthusiasm that tops off this charming performance.

Isitt’s direction cleverly disguises this well-oiled production as something off the cuff, lovable and unique. It’s a night full of fabulous, family friendly, festive fun that is sure to brighten up the faces of everyone who sees it.  It makes some very poignant points and picks up on the role of state education, the joys of teaching and even the role of women in the film industry, while also keeping the whole piece upbeat and endearing. With feelgood songs, bright and colorful sets and costumes, alongside a band full of talented musicians, you can’t ask more from this truly brilliant show.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5money*A complimentary ticket was given in exchange for this review. This value for money rating is based on the ticket price value of £37.50 + £3 Booking Fee. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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