Firstly, a disclaimer; I myself am a past member OF AAODS Juniors (and actually was in Moby Dick! The Musical the last time they did it, so I felt very old watching last night).
However, I can assure you that there is no bias in this review – in fact, there’s no need for a bias, because the show is… Well, really good!
With book by Robert Longden, and music and lyrics by Longden and Hereward Kate, this production is directed by Jaci Brickley-Clark with musical direction from Sarah Fowler.
It’s not exactly a well known show – at least, not in the same league as the Juniors’ previous productions like Les Mis and The Sound of Music.
The show is set in an all-girls boarding school on the brink of bankruptcy. MobyDick! The Musical is actually a show-within-a-show – in an attempt to raise funds to save their school, the girls and staff put on a production using whatever is lying around their school as props, scenery and in one case, a wooden leg.
There are plenty of upbeat musical numbers, and the script is laden with innuendo and goofy jokes. The story is pretty simple, and fairly predictable if you’re familiar with the story of Moby Dick.
However, this show’s real strength lies in its cast.
Maddie Robertson is endearingly eager as the show’s geeky writer and narrator of the musical, Ishmael. Along with a hilarious Miles Harding as the school’s increasingly deranged headmistress/Captain Ahab (yes, you have a boy playing a middle aged woman playing a man), these two lead a very strong cast. Millie Francis as head girl-type Starbuck, Falesha Lewis as the quirky but sharp minded Queequeg, and Zoe Hughes as a catty new girl/Ahab’s wife Esta all give standout performances. My seat neighbours commented how strong the musical numbers were throughout, so I really commend all of the principals AND the chorus. (I’m sorry I can’t name them all!)
Despite being heavily outnumbered, the boys also put in good performances. Kerrigan Heffernan’s multiple accents are really something to behold. Tom Davies is wonderful as Pip, with a truly angelic voice that’s sure to get anyone with a heart at least a little bit misty eyed.
Credit to Molly Brickley-Clark for choreographing some excellent dance routines (and for a great vocal performance as a gospel preacher). The chorus work in the show was fantastic, however my one criticism was that words were a little mumbled at times (though I’m sure first night nerves influenced this a bit). I’ll also say that the water pistols did distract from what was happening on stage at the time…!
Despite these little things, I was really glad to see that AAODS Juniors are continuing to strive to be as good as they can be, as we used to when I was in it! Knowing the work that goes into their shows (and this show specifically!) I can only say how impressed I was. It would be a good show if the cast were adults, and yet they are all teens or younger!
Suffice to say, I highly recommend that you see this show. It’s on this week at the Borough Theatre – tickets are available here: