The Other Palace, London – until 14 November 2019
Despite the plot holes, this is a charming musical that has potential.
This might be the first outing for Alick Glass’ 1930s set musical but there is still plenty of potential to be found in it despite the flaws in the plot and number of songs included in it.
Taking place in 1935, Michelle is an aspiring writer who sends off her story ‘The Page’ to an agency in LA in the hopes of it being made into a film. But she gets more than she bargained for when Hollywood con-artist Freddy Larceny plagiarises her work for his own financial gain – leading her to having to fight to be acknowledged for her work.
Directed with great spirit and energy by Warren Wills, this is a musical that is supposed to champion female independence, friendship and equality. However, due to some flaws in Alick Glass and Suzanne Glass’ story, the idea of female independence and equality seems to be lacking – particularly when it seems to be Michelle’s father who really pushes her case forward with lawyers and then in court.
However, this being said there is still much to be enjoyed about the story – which is consistently uplifting and filled with great characters that are brought to life by an enthusiastic cast. It is pacy, funny and ultimately a feel-good show that reveals the power of friendship, with the scene in which Michelle tells her friends she is going to New York proving to be a real highlight in showing the bond between them all.
There is also potential in Glass’ music and lyrics – although 25 songs is too many to the point that they overwhelm the story. Songs such as the perky ‘What We Like About Paris’ and the wistful ‘I Nearly Had it All’ are genuinely sweet and enjoyable. But there are some songs that could be left out including ‘Raindrops’ which doesn’t add anything to the story and ‘Reputation’ which is so short that it doesn’t make an impact. The lyrics can on occasion be repetitive but there is no denying that there is plenty of personality and feeling in all of them.
Meanwhile, the cast give there all to their roles – delivering great energy and personality throughout. In particular to watch Maddy Banks make Michelle begin to blossom as her fight to be recognised continues is a delight to watch, with her chemistry with Ed Wade’s awkwardly endearing Archie proving to be charming. Jeremy Secomb as Freddy Larceny delivers a suave, cold and calculating performance that is enjoyable to watch even if it feels as though he could have been used a lot more.
Overall in its current form, Reputation is an uplifting and entertaining musical with great potential. It just needs a little more work to the story and the loss of a couple of the songs to really make it shine and stand out more.