Hot on the heels of the first UK tour last year, Coventry and the Belgrade will mark the start of the second UK tour of Nativity! The Musical. Raring2go! went along to see what all the fuss is about!
The pupils of St. Bernadette's School are played by children from across the Midlands. Additionally, a further 14 children have specifically been chosen from the Coventry area as the pupils from rival school, Oakmoor. These children will only appear in the Coventry leg of the tour.
The children star along side the hugely popular Simon Lipkin, who returns as the excitable Mr Poppy, after delighting audiences during the show’s 2017 run. Lipkin is also set to star in the forthcoming Nativity Rocks – the fourth film in the smash hit Nativity! film series, due out shortly.
Based on the smash hit 2009 film, Debbie Isitt’s Nativity! The Musical tells the story of a group of children from an ordinary school as they attempt to stage the best nativity play the world – or at least Coventry – has ever seen! Join teacher Mr Maddens and his crazy teaching assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, an ambitious headteacher, and the possibility of Hollywood producers in this feel-good festive comedy for all the family, packed with favourite songs including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth and One Night One Moment.
So I wasn't sure how the musical was going to capture the completely feel-good factor that the film has but I was actually bowled over by the amazing job the cast did of bringing the film to the stage.
The show started with Mr Poppy taking the role of narrator to bring the audience up to speed and his witty quips and jokes set the pace for the rest of the show. Within ten minutes I thought that they would never be able to keep up such a high tempo for the whole two hours or so, but they did! Song followed song and the jokes never stopped (which like a good DIsney movie had a good mix of child-friendly and ones for the parents only).
The characters were endearing and the show flew by. Before we knew it, it was time for the Nativity play in the Cathedral ruins. This felt like a play within a play and took the show to another level. Now it was time for all the favourite songs. The audience clapped and sang along and by this time I thought I was watching a West-End performance it was of such a high standard.
Before the cast - a quick word on the sets: they were professional and cleverly made use of the space available. From the giant cup on the Oakmoor set to the flying Angel Gabriel and Star - they were brilliant.
So to the cast. The adult cast were of course very talented - brilliant acting, singing and dancing. They supported the real stars - the children - very well. The children were fantastic. The success of the show rested on how well they performed and they were absolutely amazing - so confident and talented. A final word on Mr Poppy....Simon Lipkin is an absolute star and his talent meant that I laughed (and shed a small tear when he was sacked!) for pretty much the whole performance.
I cannot recommend this show enough - it was probably the best thing I have seen in ages!
Mum of two boys and editor for Coventry & Nuneaton.