Jesus, Mary and Joseph! This was more like a pantomime. Oh no it wasn't, oh yes it was.
Perhaps the standout song from this much-loved series is ‘Sparkle & Shine’, but sparkle and shine it did not. This movie turned theatre production was let down by added storylines, cheap jokes and extra songs.
I was 10 years old when this iconic film first came out, and truly fell in love. The songs, the children and Mr Poppy… what’s not to love? Then, they made 2 more movies out of it, and as is so often the case, neither of them managed to conjure up the same positive response that the original film did. However, when they announced this musical revival of a childhood favourite Christmas movie, I was thrilled. What could be better than a night off from university stress to sing my heart out to some good, old classics? Nothing. So yes, you could say my expectations were high, but I truly feel that this production just fell so flat.
There were some good points. The children were fabulous. I continue to be amazed at how these young performers can put on such brilliant shows. The stage production was enchanting and utterly magical. The costumes were great and, when they were done right, the musical performances themselves were fantastic. Unfortunately, for me, that was it.
The script had the perfect storm of awkward lines (cue inappropriate references to the #MeToo campaign) and cheap laughs that led to cringe-worthy moments. There was added stories and scenes that meant it distanced itself almost too much from its cinematic muse and there were too many additional songs, which left the audience wondering what on earth was going on and desperate to get to the next sing-a-long moment. And don’t get me started on Dani Dyer. She didn’t bring anything to the performance (apart from some weird Love Island inspired lines), and actually felt like a distraction.
Having said all that, this production is aimed at children. The target audience is kids who still find Christmas is a magical time of year, who think Mr Poppy is the best thing since sliced bread, and who wouldn’t understand the weird jokes anyway. So, with that in mind, the production redeems itself to an extent. The kids around me in the audience were giggling, dancing and having the time of the life, and that is what this time of year is all about, after all.
So, Good News, for One Night, One Moment, this production sparkled in its own way, like the children in the original movie. But if you want to see it to reminisce about being a kid again, don’t bother – just watch the film again.
Nativity! The Musical performed at Mayflower Theatre from the 3rd to the 7th of December.