Gary Barlow’s and Tim Firth’s new musical is joyous, and not getting as much praise as it should be.
As I walked into the lovely Phoenix Theatre with my friend Naomi, I was met with some good news by the usher: “You’re sitting in the grand circle this evening? I’ll be able to give you both a free upgrade!”
Although I was obviously delighted by this revelation, I will admit that I grew weary: why were we being upgraded? Why weren’t people going to see the show? It’s a Thursday evening performance, it should be close to sold-out, shouldn’t it? Is it terrible?
I know: just because a show isn’t selling that many seats doesn’t mean it’s an awful musical (commercial success does not equate to artistic brilliance Conor,) but the thought definitely crossed my mind.
Set in Yorkshire, The Girls tells the story of Angela (Annie) Baker, who is left widowed after the death of her husband John. In a desperate bid to help Annie in her time of grief, Chris, her best friend of forty years, becomes inspired to raise money for a hospital sofa to commemorate him with. Together, Chris and Annie convince their other friends to participate in a nude calendar, in the hopes of raising the much-needed funds. The result: this heartwarming and hilarious new musical.
Based on a true story, the show has proved to have an impressive shelf life (first the 2003 movie adaption, with a play that followed.) This musical version is written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth. I really enjoyed most of the musical performances, but it definitely wasn’t the most memorable score. The cast all gave exceptional vocal performances, and the songs interweaved with the story effortlessly. From the rousing opening number (Yorkshire) to the emotionally vulnerable Scarborough (performed brilliantly by Joanna Riding.)
Each leading lady was given their moment to shine, and it’s simply impossible to pick a standout performance. The supporting cast was just as strong, and Ben Hunter, Chloe May Jackson Jenny, and Frazer Hadfield had the auditorium in hysterics. It was lovely to see three young performers in their West End debuts relishing every minute.
So, here’s to The Girls: the West-End desperately needs more shows like it.
The Girls is playing at the Phoenix Theatre until Saturday, the 15th of July. Get tickets here.