Claus – The Musical

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Based on the children’s book, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum; (who famously wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), comes a new, festive family show in the form of Claus – The Musical.

This new musical takes us right back to the days when Claus was a baby, abandoned in the magical forest of Burzee. Wood nymph Necile takes him in, despite the fact he is a human baby and is committed to love him as her own. With the helping hands of the other mystical forest inhabitants, fairies, knooks and ryls, Claus is taught all about the importance of kindness and love.

As Claus grows up he realises there is life beyond the immortals of the forest but sadly the human world in which he’s yet to fully explore is often a cruel and unforgiving place. Claus believes he has the ability to make a difference to the darkness in the human world and sets up home complete with his lioness guardian Shiegra by his side as his protector.

Claus starts spreading joy by gifting local children with carved wooden toys however the evil Awgwas are lurking nearby. Masters of disguise & adept at using their wicked influence to make children do naughty things; as soon as they discover the joy Claus is spreading they’re determined to put an end to his gifting and loving ways.

There are some lovely elements to this production, the cast sing the score beautifully and commit wholeheartedly to the storytelling which begins from the minute you enter the theatre. The set designed by Stuart J. Charlesworth is impressive using both the full height and width of the Lowry’s Quays theatre. The source material however is complex leaving the narrative at times tricky to follow. Narrator Alwyne Taylor guides us through as best she can but there’s such complexity involved even with her wonderful narration things just don’t quite make sense at times. It’s also fairly heavy in parts, laughs are few and the lightheartedness of a festive family show never really materialises.

The cast however shine & work their socks off throughout, Georgie Buckland gives us beautiful vocals as Necile while Harry Winchester is a wonderfully likeable Claus. Jazz Evans gives strong baddie vibes as King Awgwa lighting up each scene he is part of and inching us towards the audience interaction so many of us enjoy at Christmas.

Adapter Simon Warne has packed an awful lot in here confirming that sometimes less is definitely more. The message of kindness and love however is developed clearly enough for us all to take away & spread some for ourselves. Developing a new musical is no mean feat and praise must be given to the producers for offering audiences an alternative to the typical festive fayre even if it doesn’t quite fully hit that Christmas spot.

Claus – The Musical is on at The Lowry until Sunday 8th January tickets available here.

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