This new musical with music by BB Cooper and book and lyrics by Chris Burgess has plenty of potential but needs stronger characterisations to make it even better. 

Devilish! 3 Alex Green (Angel) and cast Photo Scott Rylander.jpg
Alex Green (Angel) and cast. Photograph by Scott Rylander. 

This new musical comedy in its world premiere production directed by Marc Urquhart, is light hearted and as fluffy as the wings on Angel’s back – but with just a hint of sinister to keep the audiences hooked.

The story follows Angel and his desire to become human, after he falls from the sky and lands in Clapham. Audiences are taken on his journey as he rises to fame and we see how even the best of us are not immune to temptation.

It is always a risk when it comes to creating a brand new musical, but BB Cooper’s music is catchy with plenty of rhythm, particularly during ‘Join the Gang’ and ‘Watch Those Ratings Soar’. Sadly, the lyrics written by Chris Burgess don’t quite work and are weak in places, most noticeable in the ballads ‘Endless Fans and Endless Phonies’ and ‘Ruth’s Song’ – both have potential, but aren’t quite as heartfelt as expected.

However, it has to be said the production is successful in other ways. On entering the auditorium, the cartoonish nature of David Shields’s set will surprise and yet entertain the audience – reflecting the playful nature of the musical, while easily allowing scene changes to take place quickly and effectively.

There are some great comic performances to look out for as well. In particular, Katie Ann Dolling as Maddie who brings to mind another fine comedy actress Sheridan Smith – her mannerisms and outlook on life providing comedy, but when Nick tells her to get cosmetic surgery in order to succeed we see a more vulnerable side to her character – adding another layer to her performance.

Alex Green as Angel is wonderfully childlike and watching his character change and develop as he becomes disillusioned with fame has plenty to offer, while Gareth James as Nick brings to mind a Simon Cowell type character – with nastiness and greed being a constant theme in his performance, which comes through when he tells Angel that he will help him get his wings amputated – much to Angel’s horror.

Devilish pokes fun at the attitude we have to fame and obsession with money, dealing with it in a light hearted way, but has a way of transforming it into a piece that gets us thinking about the issues, leaving us asking what the true cost of fame is?

The trouble is that the musical  feels like a half-formed idea, with still room for characters and plot to be developed even further, despite the enthusiasm and energy put into the show by all of the cast and creative team. Part of this is down to the strength of the lyrics and also the show not allowing the cast to develop their characters for the audience that will gradually draw them into the plot – everything seems to have been crammed in.

Despite this, there is still plenty of potential in terms of the ideas and of course the cast. With more time to work on the concept, Devilish could become more polished and completed musical.

Devilish plays at the Landor Theatre until the 29th May. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.landortheatre.co.uk/product/devilish/

 

 

 

 

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