The Birmingham Repertory Theatre in association with Bill Kenwright are presenting a new stage production of The Exorcist, adapted by John Pielmeier from the novel by William Peter Blatty. The prod...
Showcasing a new British musical - Feelgood Academy
Faye Ellen as Amanda & Lynsey Simon as Bella Derrydown-Web
On Saturday, 13 September, I went to see a showcase performance of a brand new British musical called Feelgood Academy The Musical. A showcase is primarily aimed at producers and potential backers, or anyone else that can help a new show to move forward and become a success. The general public can also see a showcase performance by buying tickets through the usual outlets. This was a journey into the unknown for me, as I’d never been to a showcase before and didn’t know what to expect from a show that has received hardly any advance publicity.
Just before the performance kicked off, Owen Smith, director and choreographer, appeared and apologised to the audience for the basic set and lack of any special effects. Then the orchestra started playing the introduction to the show. The music grabbed me straight away. There I sat in eager anticipation.
The curtain then went up and the show made a nervous start, but soon got into its stride. It was obvious from quite early on that this was going to be something quite wonderful, mainly due the quality of the catchy and very hummable songs, but also due to the performances by the talented cast, including Faye Ellen as Amanda and Jodi Steele as Lucy.
Feelgood Academy The Musical, with story by Steve Jones and words and music by Penny Lane and Glenn Keiles, is about the Feelgood Academy of Performing Arts, where two students compete for a starring role in a popular and well established West End musical. There are twists and turns along the way, as you would expect! While the premise may sound familiar, the show is not predictable and maintained my attention right up until the end, something which some West End musicals have failed to do this year, but let’s not mention Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and The Pajama Game!!
The show also contains some great comedy moments, particularly from Lynsey Simon as Bella Derrydown-Web, a legendary theatrical impresario. In fact, when Bella made her first delightfully over the top appearance, I thought she was actually fashion icon and Vogue Editor Anna Wintour. The resemblance was striking – large dark sunglasses, a power dress and a very stiff bob! This just added to the comedy. Lynsey brushed everyone aside, bossing her way through the cast and also got to show off her improvisation skills when one of her bracelets accidentally came off: “oh pick that up” she said to her assistant.
As explained, this performance was a showcase, so it will be modified and refined before we get to see a more polished version. No further performances have been announced, as the producers are seeking financial backing in order to move onto the next phase, which may involve a UK tour and also a possible London run. I, for one, will certainly look forward to following Feelgood Academy’s journey and hope to see it in the West End at some point in the near future. At the end of the day, it’s great entertainment – a good night out, and for me, that is what it’s all about.
Editor and General Manager at Londontheatre.co.uk & NewYorktheatreguide.com