REVIEW: ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2024

 

Can I have your attention please? Uplifting musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World leaves theatregoers of all ages walking taller and humming toe-tapping tunes.

The production, which is based on a non-fiction picture book by suffragette descendant Kate Pankhurst, is bringing inspiring women to the stage at Milton Keynes Theatre this week. Dramatist Chris Bush and songwriters Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo have creatively honoured the legacy of some of the world’s most iconic women by giving them bold and insightful words to say and a great pop soundtrack to sing.

Eleven-year-old protagonist Jade is visiting the local museum on a school trip with her classmates. Jade tends to be one of the “quiet children” teachers sing the praises of (those children that “never get detention”). Unfortunately, what this often means is that Jade frequently ends up being invisible and insignificant (as such children “don’t require attention”). Her teachers easily forget about her, while her parents’ impending divorce has left her feeling voiceless and powerless.

When she is inadvertently deserted by her harried teachers, Jade stumbles across the Gallery of Greatness, which is not yet open to the public. This wing of the museum pays homage to some of the most amazing women from history. As something of a lost soul, Jade doubts that she will ever make her mark on the world like those fantastic women did.

Fortunately, this entire show is a vibrant lesson in herstory (history from a female perspective) and self-belief. As soon as Jade slips into the out-of-bounds space it bursts into energetic life to empower her to be part of the movement and recognise her own greatness. Through a series of upbeat musical encounters, she gets to know an all-singing, all-dancing sisterhood of wise – and wisecracking – wonder women. And learns that “there is no such thing as an ordinary woman”.

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, the musical. Inquisitive schoolgirl Jade ventures into the out-of-bounds Gallery of Greatness during a school trip to the local museum.

 

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NEWS: Be inspired by ‘Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2024

 

Family musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World will bring some kick-ass-pirational popstar punch to Milton Keynes Theatre this month.

When inquisitive Jade is separated from her class during a school trip to the local museum she ventures into the out-of-bounds Gallery of Greatness. Here she is surprised to meet some of history’s most incredible and independent mothers, sisters and daughters.

This line-up of wonder women – who each followed their hearts, talents and dreams to change the world – includes Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie and Emmeline Pankhurst. It’s time for them to burst into song and share their empowering stories!

 

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, the musical. Four women wearing purple, military style outfits stand supportively behind a younger woman who is wearing a school uniform.

 

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REVIEW: ‘The Drifters Girl’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2023

 

Talented performers drift through sensational songs in The Drifters Girl, a disconcerting jukebox musical that strives to tell the story of an ever-changing line-up of singers.

The story, which is a frustratingly surface-level affair, follows headstrong southern girl Faye. She marries The Drifters’ manager, George Treadwell, and then sets about transforming the fluctuating band of rhythm-and-blues vocalists into a flourishing brand. When George unexpectedly dies, Faye Treadwell finds herself fighting to be taken seriously as one of the first female African American managers in a sexist and racist industry.

Faye relays her experiences from 1954 onwards to her daughter (credited as ‘Girl’ but essentially a bare-bones outline of real-life Faye’s daughter Tina Treadwell, who was consulted throughout the musical’s writing and development process). The entire narrative is basically Faye explaining what she did and why ahead of a court case to secure copyright of the ‘Drifters’ name.

The show tasks just six cast members with transporting an audience to the era of classic soul and charting the trailblazing efforts of a strong black woman who refused to give up on the group she loved. Disappointingly, with only four men portraying a dizzying succession of singers and assorted supporting characters, trudging along on the Treadwell treadmill soon gets tedious.

 

The Drifters Girl. Four men in smart blue suits perform as a vocal group. They are watched by a young girl who is sitting on the floor in front of them.

 

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NEWS: Don’t let ‘The Drifters Girl’ musical drift by – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2023

 

Soul fan? Get swinging, dancing and singing in anticipation of The Drifters Girl, which will come on over to Milton Keynes Theatre this month.

The acclaimed jukebox musical tells the story of 1950s vocal backing group The Drifters and the woman who made the ever-changing line-up of singers a household name. As the world’s first female, African American music manger, Faye Treadwell was a force to be reckoned with at Atlantic Records, where she spent decades fighting for The Drifters’ place in music history.

From the highs of hit records and sell-out tours to the lows of legal battles and personal tragedy, the show charts her trailblazing efforts. She simply refused to give up on the group she loved. Thirty years and hundreds of hit songs later, there is no doubt that Faye Treadwell was, and always will be, The Drifters Girl.

The narrative unfolds to a soundtrack bursting with the doo-wop, rhythm-and-blues and soul hits Faye helped create. Some of the most well-known tunes to look forward to include ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’, ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’, ‘Under The Boardwalk’ and ‘Stand By Me’. Theatregoers can expect to be transported to an era of classic soul!

 

The Drifters Girl. Four men in smart blue suits perform as a vocal group. They are watched by a young girl who is sitting on the floor in front of them.

 

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REVIEW: ‘42nd Street’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, August 2023

 

If you’ve a melancholy case of the blues, I’ve got a remedy for you: escape to Broadway with 42nd Street at Milton Keynes Theatre this week.

As a classy celebration of show business, this musical has everything you could wish for. A simple yet inspiring and uplifting story. Compelling characters. Engaging staging. Stunning costumes. Catchy songs. And, best of all, lots of dynamic dance routines that are full of taptastic personality.

Talented triple-threat performers demonstrate without any doubt that there’s a sunny side to every situation. Consequently, you really can’t help but smile throughout.

It’s 1933 and big-time theatre director Julian Marsh is doing a show! Mounting a new musical extravaganza during the Great Depression is no mean feat – particularly as leading lady Dorothy Brock has two left feet. Enter small-town girl Peggy Sawyer, a newbie in New York who charms her way into the chorus. Delighted to be kicking up her heels as a kid in line, it’s not long until a rare opportunity arises for Peggy to shine her light centre stage. Will she rise to the challenge of going out a youngster but coming back a star?

 

42nd Street cast members dance through a routine, accompanied by an onstage pianist.

 

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