Review: What’s New Pussycat? at the Birmingham Rep

Writer: Joe DiPietro

Original Book: Henry Fielding

Director: Lake Sheppard

Choreography: Arlene Phillips

Musical Supervisor and Orchestrations: Matthew Brind

The Green Green Grass Of Home is where we’ve spent most of the last two years, but this banging jukebox musical featuring the music of Tom Jones will have you radiant with delight after an evening or afternoon out full of feelgood fun.

Joe DiPietro has been the talk of the town already with his latest show Diana the Musical showing on Netflix, but if you’re expecting another bio musical you’d be barking up the wrong tree – or should that be meowing? DiPietro loosely adapts The History of Tom Jones by Henry Fielding and sets it in the Swinging Sixties to great affect creating a slick, witty plot in just under tour hours where the the theme of female empowerment shines through, as does the beaming heart of family. What show set in the 60s wouldn’t be complete without a love theme too.

Luke Sheppard’s direction creates moments of glee, tension and emotional connection and manages to do this while keeping the run time extremely tight. Sheppard fine tunes this peice, ensuring every second pushes the plot forward without compromising the personal development of the characters also squeezing in moments of laugh out loud humour.

The music of Tom Jones moves the story forward to great effect and while fans of the artist will be thrilled to hear the music, even for just don’t book to hear the songs they will be delighted that do add an extra layer of emotion and sometimes honour to production and blend into the book seamlessly. Lemuel Knights brings the house down with Delilah, Knight’s voice is superb and rocks the house as Big Mickey and is a great example of how you can create a great night out for those fans who do enjoy to sing along without compromising the evening for those who may not feel the same way. Its a great balance that works well.

Dominic Andersen stars as the town’s ladies man Tom Jones. Anderson’s voice is powerful and is shown most prominently when closing act one with I, Who Have Nothing . Andersen portrays both someone deeply in love but also the naive, immature and sometimes cocky character who finds his way through London after being banished from his home in Somerset and by doing so goes through a personal transformation.

Bronté Barbé has a great connection Anderson as Mary Weston. A country girl that despit Jones’ reputation, falls deeply in love. Barbé’s voice is stellar in Without Love and creates a shining example of strong woman who also has moments of intense vulnerability.

Arlene Phillip’s choreography recreates the swinging sixties vibe in some surperb full ensemble numbers and also choreographs a stunning tap number for Ashley Campbell as Mr Partridge, and old teacher of Jones’ who Jones takes under his wing to help him once again find love after the love of his life passed away.

The set design by John Bausor helps the pace of the piece, moving between the green grass of Somerset to the colourful streets of London in seconds. Howard Hudson’s lighting design compliments this beautifull. Janet Bird’s stunning costume design that contrasts the regency of the upper class to the young, free and vibrancy of London in the 60s.

Brigerton meets Mills and Boon in this fantasticly fun musical comedy featuring the music of Tom Jones. With a velvety smooth book, crowd pleasing hits and a jam packed story full of character, humour and charm, this musical never stops. Whether you’re a fan of Tom Jones or not you’re in for a treat with this brand new warm higheard musical that leaves you with a huge smile on your face wanting more.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Value For Money Comments:

A large scale musical with beautiful design elements, a large cast for prices between £19.50 and £40.50. For more info on this value for money rating please visit here: Introducing a new kind of rating

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