The Secret Society of Leading Ladies

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Almost a year since theatres went dark due to the Coronavirus pandemic the innovation and commitment to making art for audiences continues to shine.

Using online platforms, theatres across the country have been creating incredible and varied content offering theatregoers access to performances despite the current challenges.

The Barn Theatre have taken this online streaming approach a step further with their latest offering, ‘The Secret Society of Leading Ladies’. This impressive piece of theatre marries an online concert with ‘Choose Your Player’ computer game style technology allowing audiences to curate their very own theatre experience.

Conceived and directed by the Barn Theatre’s Ryan Carter, the concert offers a showcase for the archetypes of Female Musical Character, one moment you are in blissful harmony with princesses and dreamers the next divas and infamous villains demand your attention, the choice is entirely yours.

I chose to begin my experience with the sublime voice of Jarnéia Richard-Noel singing a defiant and celebratory version of ‘I Didin’t Plan It’ from Waitress, next up was a note perfect performance of the beautiful ‘Journey To The Past’ from Anastasia by Lauren Byrne. After Byrne’s emotive number I decided to introduce some sass with Ellie Mitchelle’s delicious performance of When You’re Good to Mama’ from Chicago.

Next came a real highlight of the experience for me with Jocasta Almgill’s personality packed performance of ‘Everybody’s Girl’ from Steel Pier, hugely entertaining and fantastically delivered. My final selection was Emma Kingston’s stunning version of ‘Dyin Aint So Bad’ from Bonnie and Clyde, her striking vocals left me wanting more, thankfully the finale of ‘Big Finish’ gave me just that with a superb ensemble number where each of the leading ladies had the chance to take centre stage, uplifting, joyous and entirely fitting to bring this glittering showcase to a close.

The performances alone are knockout, the variety a joy but in addition to this the ladies interact with each other in between numbers cementing this format as one of the most innovative you’re likely to see. A truly unique and hugely entertaining offering.

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is running online from Monday 22 February until Sunday 7th March, tickets available via https://barntheatre.org.uk/barn-at-home

SIX The Musical

SIX

Reviewed by Nikki Cotter

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In just two short years SIX the musical has gone from launching at a 100 seater venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to preparing to open on Broadway at the 1000 seater Brooks Atkinson Theatre next February. To say the show has been a success is a mega understatement; rarely does a new musical capture the imaginations of the public in quite the way SIX has. With loyal fans eagerly joining the Queendom and social media awash with cosplay costumes and videos of the show’s final number (the megaSix) a second UK tour was inevitable and lucky for us SIX chose to return to The Lowry for a festive six week run.

SIX

The premise although seemingly simple is brilliantly innovative. The Queens until now have been confined to the history books, summoned occasionally when children recite the old ‘Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived’ rhyme; deciding enough is enough the Queens finally find their voices each taking their turn in a lyrical battle in a bid to prove once and for all who really did have the toughest ride at the hands of their infamous husband Henry VIII.

Part pop concert, part staged musical SIX is a fierce and fabulous retelling of history, remixed and reimagined for a whole new generation. Every song is outstanding in its originality and pure genius. Each Queen is offered the opportunity to walk away with the crown allowing every cast member to breathe life, heart, soul and some serious sass into their namesakes. Individually they are uniquely brilliant together they create the ultimate girl band; guiding us through a sisterly retelling of their forgotten stories while poking fun and posturing for the top spot along the way.

SIX

Lauren Drew commands the stage as Catherine of Aragon, statuesque and strong she switches from stone cold serious to super fun with a skilful ease. Maddison Bulleyment has perfect comedy timing as Anne Boleyn even managing to make getting behead get plenty of laughs while Lauren Byrne’s soaring vocals are a real goosebump inducing moment.

Shekinah McFarlane is a joy as Anna of Cleves with bags of sass and the richest of voices while Jodie Steele captures perfectly the lost innocence of Katherine Howard in her heartbreakingly brilliant version of All You Wanna Do.

SIX

At tonight’s performance alternate Harriet Watson takes on the role of Catherine Parr, her crystal clear vocals and genuine warmth more than doing justice to Marlow & Moss’s lyrics.

The diversity of the cast is enormously refreshing to see, while each individual delivers a fully realised, complex character. The wide range of pop influences ranging from Beyoncé to Britney will ensure the melodies stay with you for days while the lyrics give make these historical women much more than ‘just wives’ giving them heaps of personality and depth.

Gabriella Slade’s edgy costume design has a fun, modern feel while Carrie-Anne Ingrouille’s choreography cements the strong girl power vibe.

SIX

SIX hits every mark as a perfect piece of theatre, innovative, uplifting, funny & immensely empowering. If this is what herstory looks like then sign me up now for the school of Marlow and Moss!

You can catch SIX The Musical at The Lowry until Saturday 11th Jan with the extra week added due to phenomenal demanding having the best availability tickets can be found here.