[title of show]

[title of show]

by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell

European Premiere: Assembly, Edinburgh Fringe​

 

August 2013

Cast: Carley Stenson, Ricky Johnston, Jamie Lee Pike, Robbie Towns

Musical Director: Matt Ramplin

Lighting Design: Ben M Rogers

Sound Design: Wil Monks

Images and Marketing Design: scarab pictures

★★★★★ - The Herald

★★★★★ - The British Theatre Guide

★★★★★ - LondonTheatre1

★★★★★ - West End Frame

★★★★ - Whats On Stage

★★★★ - The Scotsman 

★★★★ - The Stage 

★★★★ - The List 

★★★★ - Fest 

★★★★ - Edinburgh Guide 

★★★★ - The Reviews Hub 

★★★★ - Kryztoff Magazine

Reviews

 
The British Theatre Guide

★★★★★

A clever musical with some of the best vocal harmonies to be found at the Fringe, [title of show] is a stunning musical journey. Having opened on Broadway in 2008, it is making it's UK première here in Edinburgh.

Two men, bored of their dead end jobs and lack of excitement, rekindle their love of Broadway and decide to write a musical. They have three weeks in which to write it, cast it and put it on at a festival creating an array of comical hardships and hurdles that have to be solved in the process.

The quick-witted and hilarious script makes you question at every stage whether the dialogue is a reality, a performance or a show within a show as the two guys decide the storyline of the musical will be simply the creation of the production itself, a concept that sounds like it should be extremely confusing but it is pulled off seamlessly by Patch of Blue.

The two guys, Hunter (Ricky Johnstone) and Jeff (Robbie Towns) are the perfect pairing to front this over-the-top and original production. They bounce off of each other improvising and ad-libbing as they go, creating an extremely welcoming environment that puts the audience at ease, instantly allowing them to enjoy the off-the-wall entertainment even more.

Joining the men on stage are Carley Stenson as Susan and Jamie Lee Pike as Heidi, the two girls who are cast in the show as themselves by their two male friends and counterparts. Both women are superb actresses with Stenson's sharpness and Pike's relatable characterisation really coming to the fore. Their rendition of "Secondary Characters" really shows off their talent and brings the actresses to the foreground of the production.

However, it is as a quartet that this ensemble really holds its own. Their four-part harmonies in every number that they appear in are beyond stunning. There is not one fault in the vocal ability of any member of the cast and it is mesmerising to witness. The chemistry between the full company radiates joy and even the musical director is able to enjoy the limelight at certain moments with some priceless one liners.

[Title of Show] is a slick and stunning production that deserves all the praise available. Under Alex Howarth's direction, patch of blue has created an astounding piece of theatre and where Hunter states part way through the show, "You need to make sure the audience get their money's worth", you will definitely get that and so much more with this production.

Whats On Stage

★★★★

Making its UK debut, hit Broadway musical [title of show] plays to an almost full house at Edinburgh's Assembly Checkpoint, proving this new and relevant musical has a fair few fans already. With only a cast of four (and an on stage musical director) the show is simplistic to say the least. Its extremely basic set, costumes and props are all the elements that allow this production, and its cast, to shine. Without having to concentrate on elaborate set pieces, the delivery of each and every lyric is fulfilled to its maximum.

Hunter (Ricky Johnston) and Jeff (Robbie Towns), seemingly lost with their chosen careers, embark on creating a brand new musical with hopes of the bright lights of Broadway. They stumble upon writers block and decide to write down everything they say and do within the writing process to create the script of the show. This allows them on occasion to break down the fourth wall slightly engaging the young audience. The show is jam packed with modern references to Broadway and musical theatre, particularly during ‘Monkeys and Playbills', a song that names obscure and unsuccessful Broadway musicals in a lighthearted fashion. The script is lighthearted and whilst mocking certain shows such as Shrek and 9 to 5, isn't offensive.

It is a pleasure to see Carley Stenson in such an intimate environment, her role of Susan allowing her dynamic persona to take on the humour and sarcasm of her character with ease. Her relationship with Heidi (Jamie Lee Pike) provides a great degree of amusement. During 'What Kind of Girl Is She?' we see their friendship questioned and each girl explains their emotions in this high pressured environment. Whilst I probably only noticed about half of the ‘in jokes', the show is full of wit and isn't afraid to poke fun at the industry it so clearly loves. The lyrics are funny, the melodies are memorable and the cast are terrific; [title of show] is one new musical destined for big things on the British stage.

Reviews Hub

★★★★

 

It’s been a long time coming but finally the UK gets its first professional production of [title of show] courtesy of Patch of Blue Theatre who wowed audiences last year with their sharp production of The 25th Annual County Putnam Spelling Bee – which is now due to tour the UK. [title of show] follows Hunter and Jeff as they write a musical based on their own lives within three weeks to enter into the New York New Musical Festival, what follows is a witty, often self-parodying, laugh a minute musical, that not only boasts a strong cast but also clean and crisp direction.

 

Alex Howarth rings out every ounce of humour in the show, which not only lampoons the genre itself but many of the biggest musicals currently gracing our theatres, he keeps things very simple, no expensive scenery, just attention to detail and here it really shines.

The cast are just as sharp, Carly Stenson fresh from her run as Princess Fiona in Shrek, gives a strong performance as dead pan Susan, while Ricky Johnston (Hunter) and Robbie Towns (Jeff) have a great on stage chemistry and deliver some knock out vocals too, but it is Jamie Lee Pike, who shines head and shoulders above her cast members, pulling in a show stopping portrayal of Heidi.

 

If one is to find fault with the show, its more to do with the final ten minutes of the source material which starts to loose its way, and never really wraps everything up in a satisfactory way.

 

It is great to see [title of show] finally get a production that it deserves in the UK… The only question is what will Patch of Blue give us next year?

The List

★★★★

The trials and tribulations of a group of young performers in New York form the basis of the UK premiere of  [title of show]. Written in just three weeks for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, this 'musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical' follows the creation of a new piece of musical theatre, from conception to realisation to performance with plentiful songs in between.

The brainchild of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, [title of show] is a refreshing and original piece of theatre that gives the audience an insight into what makes a musical. However, what makes this show more unusual is the emphasis, not just on the writing process, but the study of other, associated pressures, such as the influence of investors and producers. In the hands of Bowen and Bell, it soon becomes apparent that writing and performing a musical is only part of the battle.

Uplifting, invigorating and oddly familiar, [title of show] is a unique and unforgettable musical; see it at the Fringe before it tours.