Leeds Grand Theatre – until 6 January 2018
10 stars out of 5
The best show of the year is currently in Leeds with Nativity the Musical. Full of Sparkle and Shine, this is a proper feel good show, a wonderful alternative to pantomime, and full of festive joy.
Simon Lipkin leads the adult cast as Mr Poppy, the teaching assistant with a heart of gold and child like enthusiasm. Lipkin is a joyful revelation – full of fun and natural comedic timing, he also has pathos and depth especially in his budding friendship with Mr Maddens.
Daniel Boys is primary school teacher Paul Maddens. Heartbroken after the love of his life Jennifer (the woefully underused Sarah Earnshaw) left him to chase her dream in Hollywood and vowing to never do another school Nativity after critic Patrick Burns (Jamie Chapman) gave minus 2 stars for his last performance. He finds himself in charge of this year’s show at St Bernadettes Catholic Primary. An angry exchange with old friend and now teacher at rival school, the private Oakmoor, Gordon Shakespeare (the fabulously snarling Andy Brady) finds Paul bragging that Jennifer and Hollywood are coming to the Nativity. This then causes mass mayhem as the school and town prepare to be famous.
The children are the complete stars of the show, 3 groups of 8 youngsters* performing the most elaborate over the top production of the Nativity ever, in the hope to impress Hollywood but also to prove that, despite what everyone thinks, they’re not useless and they can perform and perform they do. The actual show itself they are magnificent, but Dear Father Christmas is heartbreakingly beautiful and the mother in me wanted to hug them all.
Debbie Issit and Nicky Ager’s songs are wonderfully catchy and you find yourself humming the tunes long after leaving the theatre and Andrew Wright’s choreography is fabulous in its simplicity.
Nativity the Musical is the perfect Christmas show, happy and sad in equal measure, this should become everyone’s new festive tradition
*Oratile Chele, Alexander Hogg, Betsy Jiggins, Zak Lackenby, Jasmine McKenna, Moosa Mostafa, Amy Mulhall, Gerald Ngwenya, Chantelle Jane Tonolete, Chaelissa Gray, Kheiri Isaac-Osmani, Harry Martin, Joshua Millard-Lloyd, Celie Newman, Lyla Peters, Layla Grace Quaid, Katelyn-Janet Rollason, Nicholas Vakis, Jamie Bates, Evie Bennell-Low, Layla Gavin, Grace Green, Angelina Martin, Fintan McGrory, William Redican, Beatrice Scholefield, Archie Turner and Pepper as Crackers the dog