Review Round Up: Claus the Musical, The Lowry

Take a look at what critics have had to say about the new musical adaptation based on L Frank Baum’s novel.

(c)Pamela Raith.

WhatsOnStage: *** “Kate Golledge’s direction sometimes sees the stage overcrowded with bodies and scenery, but designer Stewart J Charlesworth and lighting designer Aaron J Dootson create bundles of atmosphere and musical director Alex Beetschen leads the band with precision.”

Manchester Theatres.com: “Claus is engaging and immersive from the second you walk into the theatre.  Make sure to get to your seat in plenty of time as the cast work their way through the theatre, interacting with the audience, encouraging children to help with the numerous ribbon style buntings that are being draped across the auditorium, and watching in awe as sheets, props and even a pretend baby are lowered from the higher tiers.  The cast happily chat away with you, and this is a wonderfully exciting and welcoming way to enter the theatre and create the presence of warmth, love, acceptance, inclusion and family – all themes that run beautifully throughout the show.”

The Reviews Hub: ** 1/2 “While Chris Draper as Will Knook plays the fool a bit, and Corrine Priest delivers some wisecracks as the acerbic Fairy Queen, there’s just not enough humour in the show, and somehow, in all the clamour, the musical element also gets a bit lost. New musicals always have the challenge of winning over the audience with unknown songs, but there’s nothing here that you come out of the theatre humming. Having said that, the songs are delivered with gusto, with particular credit going to Harry Winchester as Claus and Georgie Buckland as Necile.”

The Telegraph: ** “The result was oddly Kipling-esque. A boy-baby is found in the “forest of Burzee” and raised by its non-human, immortal denizens. He becomes curious about “civilisation”, and then part and parcel of it, albeit at one present-giving remove. With its hokum about “Fairies, Knooks, Ryls and Nymphs”, ruled by Ak, the “master woodsman of the world”, it’s no surprise that The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus never became a classic in the way that Baum’s earlier The Wonderful Wizard of Oz did.”

(c)Pamela Raith

British Theatre Guide: “The sheer ambition of Claus the Musical limits its success, but it remains an unusual festive entertainment and it is doubtful there is a harder-working cast around this season.”

The Stage: **** “Andy Collyer and Simon Warne’s adaptation of the L Frank Baum story is an inventive musical full of heartfelt seasonal warmth.”

I Love Manchester.com: “There is a unique use of lighting employed, where torches with a yellowy-green lens are lit and used to project shadows and silhouettes through sheets to develop the narrative and move the story along. The stage at times gets very busy with rope, ribbon, sheets, and scarves, so much so that at times it seems that the show is still in the early, initial brainstorming stage, trying to use lots of ideas at once, but really it could use some refinement.”

All That Dazzles: ** “A fantastic cast and a handful of lovely songs still make this an entertaining show that young children will no doubt enjoy, though perhaps not remember for too long afterwards. More work needs to go into this show in the future to ensure it has a long and successful life. For that to happen though, it needs to add a lot more magic and spirit.”

(c)Pamela Raith

Matinee Radio.com: “If you are looking for a festive show that is perhaps more earnest than a pantomime but just as uplifting, Claus could well be a new family tradition.”

Mancunion.com: “The flimsy narrative of Claus is Baum’s fault, but I do question the creative’s choice in adapting something so trite. It was probably inventive when it was written, but after scores of origin stories, the genre is exhausted, and this one falls flat. The story begins quite interesting but struggles to find its footing.”

The Arts Shelf: “Adapted for the stage by Simon Warne, and featuring music and lyrics by Andy Collyer, Claus The Musical is not so much a big show-stopping Christmas musical but a much gentler, more poignant story about the true meaning of Christmas, the bond between mother and child, and the importance of kindness, generosity and family above all.”

Claus: The Musical will play at The Lowry  until the 8th January 2023.

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