This wonderfully energetic musical is packed with great songs performed brilliantly by the six strong cast who are back by a three strong band of women musicians. It has been on tour since April and this is its London date so performances by now have been honed to perfection,and the result is so good it could be the next Six, although battling one’s way to Stratford may deter all but the local audience which was on its feet cheering at the end.
Schoolgirl Jade (Kidzai Mangombi) on a school trip to the museum gets lost, funds herself locked in the gallery devoted to great women of the past, and they come to life to five her some much needed advice. The picture books by Kate Pankhurst are the source material and while the selection of great women is not all that surprising – their greatness has long been recognised – the show’s point is that to achieve it they had to fight against men who somehow or other often claimed credit for their successes. Jade feels ill at ease in the world, her parents are divorcing without having consulted their children, her teachers seem remote and she does not know what the world holds for her. But she finds out. Kangombi makes Jade an appealing figure and as the great women the rest of the cast shine, delivering their turns and their collective ones with style backed by a first rate three piece all women band. It is ladies night at the Royal and one directed with flare and style by Amy Hodge.
The great women are not all that surprising – Marie Curie, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Warhart, Rosa Parks, Mary Secoal, Jane Austen, and Emmeline Pankhurst among others appear. But they all have valid points to make, and not all mean anything to Jade who is on a learning session. The set, all boxes lit up with neon surrounds, is jolly, the costumes frequently funny, and this is a night out to lift the spirits as well as make one pause and think about just how badly women have been treated in the past and how brave, although by no means unique, as Rosa Parks points out, this lot were.
Jade: Kudai Mangombe.
The women – Jade Kennedy, Renee Lamb, Kirstie Skivington, Christina Modestou.
Swings: Clarice Julianda, Elise Zavou.
Musical Director: Audra Cramer.
The Band – Rhiannon Hopkins, Nocola T Chang, Chloe Rianna.
Director: Amy Hodge.
Set & Costume Designer: Joanna Scotcher.
Choreographer: Danielle ‘Rimes’ Lecointe.
Lighting Designer: Zoe Spur.
Sound Designer: Carolyn Downing.