Review

Nativity! The Musical at Leeds Grand Theatre

NATIVITY! THE MUSICAL. Simon Lipkin Mr Poppy and Daniel Boys Mr Maddens and the children of St Bernadettes. Photo by Richard Davenport

Photograph credited to Richard Davenport

In what is possibly an absolutely perfect production, Nativity! The Musical brings with it all the joy, toe-tapping songs and Christmas sparkle from the film with additional narrative and characterisation to ensure it translates to the stage like a dream.

Daniel Boys as the lovable Mr Maddens delivers a glorious performance, capturing the spirit of a failed-actor-turned-teacher who now hates Christmas due to the love of his life, Jennifer, leaving him at Christmas-time to chase her dreams of becoming a producer in LA. Though no Ashley Jensen, Sarah Earnshaw delivers a lovely performance as Jennifer and her singing voice is terrific.

Simon Lipkin is perfectly cast as new teaching assistant Mr Poppy. His fun and childish interactions with the children is an absolute joy to watch, yet he narrates the show with a knowing, somewhat wise undertone that really makes us fall in love with him. Using this device is absolute genius from writer and Director Debbie Isitt, who created the original film. She’s frankly a genius and has created a show that has warmth, heart and a whole lot of Christmas spirit (so much so that I cried tears of joy from start to finish… however sad that may seem!)

As Mr Maddens battles to create a fantastic nativity play with his students, rival teacher and old friend Mr Shakespeare is set to cause trouble. Andy Brady is light-hearted yet villainous as Mr Shakespeare, making him a character we love to hate. Credit must also go to Jemma Churchill as Mrs Bevan, who is heartwarming and sweet in her role.

Now on to the superstars of the show… the children. They are perfectly cast – talented and exceptional actors, singers and dancers yet hilariously funny and not irritating in the slightest (a difficult feat to accomplish!) They all bring loveliness to their roles and the end nativity is absolutely incredible.

I defy anyone to leave the theatre without a spring in their step and Christmas joy in their hearts. If you love the film, love awesome music and a stellar cast of pure talent (or just love seeing a darn good musical) get your tickets to see Nativity! now… hurry! The show runs until 6th January 2018.

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