As a theatre lover, there’s nothing quite like the excitement of seeing a brand new original musical, and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World at Norwich Playhouse did not disappoint with reasons to be excited.
From the producer of the smash-hit SIX the Musical, Kenny Wax is back with a sister to SIX! Based on the picture book of the same name by Kate Pankhurst (yes, she is a very distant relative of Emmeline no less!) we meet young, soon-to-be turning eleven years old, Jade (played by Fayth Ifil at this performance- though the role is shared between four young girls) who is hiding in the closed exhibition at the local museum as she doesn’t want to go home.
Jade is struggling to come to terms with her unsteady home life and the relationship between her and her parents, and Bearonce (her teddy) is seemingly the only friend she has to help her through. At least, that is until the great women from history come to life… said women hear her cries for help and pay her a visit to guide her through, giving her advice and inspiration to be stronger in using her voice and making the changes she wants to see happen.
Along the way, some of the characters she meets include Amelia Earheart, Jane Austen, Frida Kahlo, Emmeline Pankhurst, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks – to name but a few! What I loved about these characters we met was both the diversity in these women and what they did, but also the education it provided. Of course we know most of these names, but there were a few whom I personally hadn’t really heard of and it was a great reminder of all those who paved the way for those who followed. Said characters were portrayed by Jade Kennedy, Frances Mayli McCann, Christina Modestou and Renee Lamb – all of whom were incredible in their multi-roles and gave some glorious vocal performances.
The score has been devised by Miranda Cooper, Chris Bush and Jennifer Decilveo; and if you know your late noughties pop music, Miranda Cooper is a name you might have heard of as she’s penned hits for the likes of Girls Aloud, Kylie, Sugababes and many more. Therefore you can definitely hear a classic pop sound in the score – but it makes the story even more catchy, fun and educational! A stand out for me was Deeds Not Words, as it reminded me of Cheryl’s famous Fight For This Love routine and video mixed with a girl band hit. A World Of Colour was also a really beautiful number and Fantastically Great/Megamix have real potential to get audiences buzzing once the show picks up. I am already itching for a cast recording! I feel like if it released one, the appeal in the show would instantly increase.
If you’re familiar with SIX, you’ll notice that the set, set-up and theme of the show very much feels like a sister to the show – if not then you’ll be coming in with fresh eyes and enjoy it all the same! The costumes are gorgeous, full of bold colour and remade into a modern fashion. Across the board, the cast, musicians and creative team is made up predominately of women and it’s always so refreshing to see.
Above all, this was a wonderful early evening out; compiled into ninety minutes all the way through, it flew by. It appeals to audiences of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, and it was so exciting to see just this among the crowd. It’s fuelled by feminism and girl power, but it doesn’t come across too heavy; it’s full of laughs and heart. It’s just honest and educational, and a stark reminder of how far women have come yet how there’s still a long way to go. Go and support this new show now, because I think it has great potential to be a big hit – but it needs you to make it so!
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World runs at Norwich Theatre Playhouse until Sunday 5th December. Find out more and book at norwichtheatre.org.
For further dates and information visit fantasticallygreatwomenthemusical.com.