I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical
  • By Kate Nora
  • |
  • 6th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★★★

When critiquing a musical about the difficulties of being a performer, there’s nothing to do but write a review about the difficulties of being a critic. Buckle up, it’s showtime.

They take you through the many stages of being an actor with humour, realism and a genuine appreciation of the craft.

First, you request a show⁠—maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but you must have chosen it for some good reason. Possibly the title, I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical, caught your eye because it’s a sentiment you have shared ever since your dad took you to see Wicked on the West End in 2007.

The room is packed, everyone's a little sweaty and the woman next to you apologises for elbowing you while taking off her jacket. A man sits on stage behind an electric piano. You can only assume he is part of the show. The usher reminds people one more time to fill in all the seats because it’s a sellout, before closing the door and leaving you to your fate. Lights dim, the first few notes hang in the air and our esteemed cast appears.

Within the first few minutes you’ve caught references to Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof, and The Book of Mormon, been casually insulted by the performers, and participated in the first roaring laugh of the show. They’re off swinging! The cast of James Hume, Felix Mosse, Charlotte O’Rourke and Charlotte Anne Steen is remarkable. They take you through the many stages of being an actor with humour, realism and a genuine appreciation of the craft.

Alexander S. Bermange, composer/lyricist, Musical Director and pianist, keeps the energy flowing as the sole member of a live band, and fills in as the unreasonable show manager when necessary. You keep thinking you know these songs already, but that’s just because Bermange has playfully borrowed from some of his favourite musical themes in creating these original numbers.

Hume sounds like he should be reciting (or singing) Shakespeare, so you’re not surprised when he performs a solo about his character’s desire to be a “respected, serious actor”. O’Rourke’s strength is her ability to ping-pong through different singing styles, key changes and personalities without breaking a sweat (although you feel tired on her behalf). Steen is empowering, and a little scary, when she finally lands a leading role and goes full Diva. Mosse breaks your heart with his soft ballad about being a stand-in, spending his whole life waiting for the star to call in sick (or die).

After 55 minutes of thespian despair, you get an inspirational closing number about making magic that forces you to reconsider your own life choices. Either these people truly love showbiz or they’re very good at acting like they do⁠—which amounts to the same thing. The show ends too soon, despite one last number (because they “can’t leave without an encore”). Then you politely wait for what feels like the entire room to file out before you make it to the door. You spot Mosse on stage helping to disassemble the limited props. You call out, “You were amazing.” He responds, “You’re amazing.” You don’t disagree.

Another ending to another show. But what a show.

Reviews by Kate Nora

Traverse Theatre

Clybourne Park

★★★★
PQA Venues @Riddle's Court

More Myself Than I Am

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

The War of the Worlds

★★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Found Footage Festival: Volume 9

★★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

Two Hearts: The Comeback Tour

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Boasting a West End Wilma Award, a Broadway World Award nomination and a raft of five-star reviews for its recent London run, this comedic musical revue reveals everything you could want to know about being a musical theatre performer... if only there were any who'd admit it. Covering the journey from wide-eyed drama student to brattish diva, or past-it chorus member, or bitter has-been (or never-was), this show lifts the lid on awful auditions, debilitating dance routines, mid-performance mishaps, and backstage backstabbing – plus those magical moments that make it all worthwhile.

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