‘Nativity!’ is a cute, quirky, fun film for those of all ages and I was worried heading to the theatre tonight that the musical wouldn’t match it’s extremely charming nature. I myself have seen the film many many times, and watch it any time of the year. It is for me, the one Christmas film I can watch any point in the calendar year. It is because of this that I was very happy that the musical version of it was just as good. Albeit with a couple of changes to make it work for the stage, it worked just as well, with some parts working even better then in the film.
The music is still as good as ever. With songs such as, Nazareth, Sparkle and Shine and One Night, One Moment still being as catchy as ever. The one thing I always liked about the film is that the songs always perfectly match the tone in the moment within the plot and the new acquisitions for the stage production continue that trend. The moment towards the end where Polly Parker (played delightfully by Dani Dyer) comforts one of the school children and together they sing ‘Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ is very sweet as well as also providing an opportunity for Dani Dyer to sing, something that she doesn’t do too much off within the show! The choreography by Andrew Wright works really well, especially all the big numbers involving the school children. With all scene changes being very freely flowing really helping with the fast paced nature of the musical.
From a casting point of view, Scott Garnham is fantastic as Mr Maddens. He really nails the awkwardness that Martin Freeman so expertly brought into the role, whilst also making the role his own. The same can be said for Scott Paige as Mr Poppy. Mr Poppy is such an interesting role, and I like that he also served as the narrator for much of the story. I thought both had an excellent stage presence and worked really well with the cast of school children. I can’t review the show without mentioning the awesome cast playing the kids. Whilst I can’t mention them all individually, I thought they were as good, if not better than the kids in the original film. I, for one, am particularly happy that they kept in the scene when Angel Gabriel ‘deathslides’ from the top of the cathedral as I was quoted I would be “genuinely sad if it’s not in the show”.
Props are also given to David Woodhead for his very crafty set which I felt perfectly encapsulated not only the vibe of the film, but also the fact that it was very much a Christmas musical. The overall arch of the staging being covered in stars, signalling both the famous 5 star reviews, but also the stars that sparkle and shine at the end of the production.
I loved every moment of this production and would highly recommend it if you are a fan of the film, or are just looking for some feel good fun. It is on at the Mayflower Theatre until the 7th December and then is moving on to London so Make sure to see it in Southampton whilst you can. It really was the perfect way to get into the Christmas mood.