Streaming online 22 February – 7 March – book via https://barntheatre.org.uk/secret-society-of-leading-ladies
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
The Barn Theatre’s short but sweet treat for musical theatre fans lets the viewer choose the characters that sing each number to create their own show. The Secret Society of Leading Ladies sees 14 West End performers take on the personas of divas, princesses, dreamers and villains from shows including The Wizard of Oz, Anastasia, Mean Girls, Fame and Chicago.
Directed by Ryan Carter, each show sees 5 singers arrive in a mysterious venue and sing their character’s standout number. There are short scenes where the women chat between the “Choose your character” screens, which work brilliantly whatever combination you choose.
Every member of the company (Jocasta Almgill, Lauren Byrne, Kayla Carter, Aoife Clesham, Allie Daniel, Abbi Hodgson, Aisha Jawando, Claudia Kariuki, Natalie Kassanga, Emma Kingston, Kayleigh McKnight, Ellie Mitchell, Jarnéia Richard-Noel, Kelly Sweeney) delivers a wonderfully fresh and polished performance, with the three villains in particular relishing every second of their time in the spotlight. The brevity of the show and the chance to be in control should appeal to fans who have always wanted to take the reins of a production, and also serve as an innovative introduction to musicals that will ignite a passion for musical theatre.
After the five solos, the finale gives us a big finish with all fourteen performers taking part, giving the audience a glimpse of what they’ve missed in their version of the show. Tickets are available to watch a single show, but a multi-show pass allows multiple viewings, and you can then see all fourteen performances – this would take three views of the show. Die-hard fans may want to try out as many of the 150+ different show combinations as they can.
Packed with stunning performances, this is an exciting and very sociable approach to a streamed concert – I can see a few family arguments developing in homes around the country over which character to choose next! The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a delight from start to finish, over and over again.