Posted 04 April 2012 - 11:26 PM
Posted 05 April 2012 - 01:49 PM
A group of people sat together in a room and decided that the new musical Monkee Business that is currently playing in Manchester as part of the 'Manchester Gets it First' campaign was a good idea........... they were wrong.
This new musical featuring songs of The Monkees (and a few other random songs thrown in from the era) is probably one of the most inept shows to hit the big stage in a long time. I have seen some clunkers in my time from Good Vibrations to Dracula the Musical, Rent Remixed to Peggy Sue Got Married, but this show makes the aforementioned shows look like works of art.
The dreadful book by Peter Benedict tells the story of a Monkees tribute band who are offered the chance of a life time posing as the real Monkees on a world tour since the real group are far too busy to do it, but before you can say 'plot holes' and 'bad writing' the group are caught up in spy plot including the KGB, Nuns and dead raven.
The book fails on every level possible, the jokes are dire and dated and raised barely a titter from the audience I watched the show with (about 150 people in a 2000 capacity theatre) it has so many holes in the plot that you start to think they missed a few scenes out and characters come and go in the blink of an eye. Worse still is the writers inability to fit the music in to the show, each song is pretty much announced to the audience and 3 characters have names that match song titles or lyrics so the songs can 'fit in'.
If the book was not bad enough then Director David Taylor manages to take what little charm there is in the show and squeeze it dry. The show is left lifeless with flat direction, horrible scene transitions and some of the worst Choreography (David Morgan) I have seen in some time. The set design seems to be an afterthought (and cheap) and the limited use of projections made you wonder why they bothered having any in the first place.
Not all was bad though, the 4 leading men Stephen Kirwan, Ben Evans, Tom Parsons and Oliver Savile work hard to keep your attention. They sing incredibly well together and manage to perfectly recreate the sound of the band. As hard as they try to deliver the dreadful lines with passion, they are fighting a losing battle. Cassandra Compton as Mary is wasted in a thankless role and the rest of the cast and ensemble look like they would rather be anywhere else (I felt the same way). I also have to take my hat off to the band who sounded superb and brought the fun songs of The Monkees to life.
After the success of Ghost the Musical in Manchester last year it's a shame that this is what is following it up, the talented leads deserve so much better and so do the audience who are paying to see this. With only Manchester and two more tour stops after, let's hope that this show either goes back to the rehearsal and workshop room, or the plug is pulled for good. It is baffling how this "musical" made it out of the workshop room in the first place.
Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:44 PM
Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:38 PM
Posted 05 April 2012 - 07:46 PM
Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:55 PM
Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:41 PM
The first half was a bit hit and miss - some of the storyline is very strange, but there were a few scenes I really liked - one with just the four lead guys singing a ballad together in harmony, and a nice duet between Stephen and Cassie. (Sorry, being too young to remember the Monkees I don't know any song titles other than the really famous ones.
The second half was a great improvement - less of the strange storyline with the Russian spies. I really couldn't follow the final scene though but I don't think it really mattered. The cast said they keep changing bits day by day, so hopefully people will think it improves somewhat. The four lead guys were all great and I think all the cast did a good job. I really think they need more in the way of set though.
I couldn't believe how much the full price tickets cost, I was pleased to get a discount. I can understand bigger shows like Phantom and Sound of Music charging a lot, when people know what they're getting and have lots of cast and set, but with this being a new show with a small (ish) cast and next to no set, I don't know how they thought they'd get away with it. I'm not surprised it hadn't sold well, with Phantom being on just up the road.
I'm hoping to see it again in Sunderland, so it will be interesting to see if I can notice any changes.
A bright bright star will show the way.
Go to where the champions played."
Posted 14 April 2012 - 01:48 PM
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