Nativity! The Musical just knocked every panto Jackie Green has ever seen out of the festive ballpark. Here she explains how and why.
It was a West End level production at affordable prices and the children nailed the show to its well-trodden floorboards. I watched my two young grandsons settle into their seats at the Kings Theatre a little worried it wouldn’t live up to their all-time favourite film. It did. We were treated to fabulous dance routines and moments of drama and humour from a host of talented singers, reflecting all the warmth and hilarity of the smash hit movie. My boys whooped, laughed and cheered through every second.
The contrast of the stiffly choreographed entrance of the privately educated Oakmoor children and the wacky, warm gaggle of kids from St Bernadettes set the scene and initiated the contest to win the highly coveted Five Star school nativity review. The children hit the stage running, singing and dancing. Every single one of the magical moments my boys remembered from the film were there and performed with full throttle enthusiasm. The audition performances were hilarious and the staircase scene was perfectly timed, complete with cherubic faces squeezed into golden-star headdresses. The moon and rock star entrances featured confident, beaming children singing with nerves of steel high above the stage. This was finished off with a moving, tender-hearted ballad around a candle lit manger and an audience holding mobile torches aloft. We were treated to 24 beautiful musical numbers including ‘Sparkle and Shine’, ‘Hollywood are Coming’ and ‘One Night, One Moment’.
Paul Maddens, played by actor/director John-Paul McCrohon, led the cast with a strong vocal performance, with Tony Johnson as the hilarious Gordon Shakespeare. The beautifully performed love interest, Jennifer, was played by Charlotte Turnbull, and drew a flood of ‘ooooohs’ during a very warm embrace. Tony Dart as the difficult-to-impress critic Patrick Burns and the concerned but loveable Mrs Bevan, played by Kerry McCrohon, were equally superb. For my boys, though, Mr Poppy was the man they came to see. This pivotal role, played by the extremely talented Matt Sackman, was always going to be big shoes to fill but fill them he did. His energy levels never dropped and his comic timing and huge character embraced the audience in such a warm hug it must’ve saved us all a fortune in winter fuel bills. My boys simply adored him. All his comical and touching observations were there with a few new topical jokes thrown in. He made the production and every parent and child in the audience wished they’d had a classroom assistant like Mr Poppy.
In the days of ‘stream-all-you-like’ buffet entertainment it’s hard to compete against special effects, iconic actors and Hollywood marketing but this theatre production taught every member of the audience, especially the children, that you can’t beat a live experience. The injection of excitement, involvement and investment from the audience is unlike anything the silver screen can offer. I’ve never seen a performance by CCADS but after seeing this production of Nativity! The Musical I wasn’t surprised to discover they’ve been delighting audiences for over 30 years. They certainly inspired my 7-year-old who hasn’t stopped talking about it and can’t wait to join a theatre group now.
It seems the UK has a bright future in the entertainment industry if this performance is anything to go by. CCADS and the Kings certainly got their 5-Star Review from me but my boys are still insisting it’s ‘strictly’ a ten!
Check out what else is on at CCADS on their website.