New Wolsey stages 'must see' musical which captures spirit of Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:45 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:44 09 November 2019
Review: The Season, by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, New Wolsey Theatre, until November 16
First things first: if you love musical theatre - you need to see this show. If you love clever, funny, smart musical comedies that avoid obvious endings - you need to see this show. If you love films, books, stories about the magic of Christmas - you need to see this show.
If any theatre was brave enough not to stage a panto in December then The Season would be the perfect yuletide gift for their audiences.
The New Wolsey along with the Royal and Derngate theatre in Northampton, have invested in developing a brand new show by two young writers who had won the Stiles and Drewe mentorship award - and what a stunning show it is. Stiles and Drewe are the British composers who came up with West End hits Mary Poppins, Betty Blue Eyes, Soho Cinders and the critically acclaimed reworking of Half a Sixpence.
The Season is a smart musical comedy, packed with catchy songs and told by two engaging characters, Robin and Dougal, who you love spending time with. The dynamic between these two is rather akin to those timeless pairings in Hollywood movies; Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby or Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. It's clear that they are destined to be together but can't help rubbing each other up the wrong way, which creates dialogue that really sparks.
The action takes place over two days at Christmas. The enthusiastic, and rather gauche, Dougal, played with a real zest for life by Alex Cardall, arrives in New York on Christmas Eve, for his father's wedding to a much younger woman.
He is met at the airport by Robin, vividly brought to life by Tori Allen-Martin as a world-weary Brooklyn inhabitant. She resents the fact that has had to take time off work, at a downtown coffee shop, to collect him. They are not, at first sight, the perfect couple but from that opening line of dialogue: "You are standing on my passport" you just know that something special is in the air.
As we spend time in their company we get to know them as people and this is where the show comes alive. We discover that Robin is the sister of the bride while Dougal has never met his father and has created an idealized picture of him which is not necessarily a good thing.
The pair roam New York over the course of 48 hours during Christmas and director Tim Jackson has given them a wonderfully stylish and impressionistic cityscape to wander around in with an imaginative use of revolves which keeps the action moving at a brisk pace.
Despite the excellent, inventively catchy songs, which have a real urban-edge, the heart of the show lies with Alex and Tori's creation of two adorably flawed people who go on a remarkable journey during the course of this wonderful show.
I have got the feeling that The Season is the sort of show that will reward repeat audiences with even greater insights. It's reassuring to see that regional theatre is still investing in great new shows, investing in the future of theatre.
See this show while it is available at regional prices. The next time you will see The Season, it will undoubtedly be in the West End, it's really that good.