Miss Nightingale - Theatre ☆☆☆☆☆5
Showing from - Thursday, February 4, 2016 through till Saturday, February 6, 2016
Grand Theatre - Blackpool
Sandra Mangan | Thursday, February 4, 2016
Let’s get this clear from the start. Miss Nightingale is NOT about the Lady with the Lamp…. Lady with the Vamp, more like!
London, 1942 is in the depths of World War Two and in dire need of entertainment. Enter Maggie Brown, a brash northern lass with the voice of an angel and the cheek of the devil. In an age of jukebox musicals and revivals, it is refreshing to see a show with an all-new scoreHer forte is the risqué song – titles in the fantastic original score for this show include Let Me Play on Your Pipe, The Pussy Song and The Sausage Song, need we say more?
She belts them out in a voice reminiscent of Gracie Fields in her heyday, accompanied by daring moves that wouldn’t look out of place in a burlesque show – spilts on top of an upright piano, anyone?
The near the knuckle songs are provided by her friend George Nowodny, a Polish Jew who perfected his English during the time he lived in Berlin with Bill, Maggie’s brother. The relationship was far from platonic, but since Bill died George hasn’t had the heart to tell her the truth.
Talk of the Town
The pair look set for the big time when their work attracts the attention of rich impresario Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe and the newly christened Miss Nightingale is soon the talk of the town. But what price fame? There is plenty of soul searching to be done before the final curtain falls.
In an age of jukebox musicals and revivals, it is refreshing to see a show with an all-new score. And what a score it is! The lyrics may be risqué, but the tunes are lovely, running the gamut of emotions. Well done to the many-talented Matthew Bugg (who also played Maggie’s soldier brother Harry…. And piano, saxophone, clarinet, violin and ukulele into the bargain.
As the cast took their final bows I was amazed to count only six people. In addition to acting and singing, every one of them played accompaniment to the songs. I take my hat off to the sole female, Clara Darcy, who was kept mighty busy in the role of Maggie Brown, while also playing a mean trumpet, double bass and glockenspiel! Conor O’Kane was brilliant as George, and he kept his end up on the piano and percussion (these double entendres are catching!).
With themes of homosexuality and promiscuity, Miss Nightingale is not a show for the faint hearted – two elderly ladies sitting in front of me managed to last a full half hour before departing the theatre in a rustle of sweet papers.
But if you want to witness a fine group of uber-talented actors at the top of their game, in a show that will keep you entertained from start to finish, then please try to catch it before the tour ends! There are dates at Coventry and Buxton to come if you can’t make it to Blackpool this week.
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