Monday, 17 September 2007

Bad Girls the Musical : Garrick Theatre London

Bad Girls – The Musical
The Garrick Theatre – London
Book by: Maureen Chadwick & Ann McManus
Music & Lyrics: Kath Gotts
Directed by Maggie Norris
Reviewed by Helen Patrick

Its refreshing to see a show in London’s West end that doesn’t take itself to seriously, If you go to see Bad Girls the Musical don’t go expecting a score of Lloyd-Webber orchestrations, or the acting of a Eugene O’Neil Play, which is why I feel some “high-end” reviewers have just slapped Bad Girls the Musical into the trash before its even had chance to establish itself, which I feel isn’t a very fair judgement.

Bad Girls takes us to the first three series of the hit ITV drama, in which lecherous Jim Fenner and sidekick Sylvia plan to rise further up the screw ladder by whatever means possible. Chadwick & McManus with their book have managed to condense nearly 36 hours worth of material into a well paced story line which has some very funny moments. I was a Bad Girls fan before going to see the show and was pleasantly surprised that the transfer from Screen to stage worked as well as it did, but in terms of creative excellence full marks must be given to Kath Gotts, her music and lyrics may take on many different musical genres but the skill is in her word play is worth the ticket price alone, stand out songs include the very funny “all banged up” about being a woman in prison and not getting any sex, and the very touching “freedom road” sang hauntingly by Camilla Beeput as Crystal Gordon at the top of act two.

The set by Colin Richmond is very simple with some of the best use of video projection I have seen on stage, which helped create the feeling of real isolation and the claustrophobic conditions of being in prison.

There are some excellent performances especially from west-end veteran Sally Dexter as Yvonne Atkins, as soon as she steps onto the stage, the atmosphere charges and she demands centre stage. Helen Fraser reprising her role of Sylvia
“Bodybag” Hollamby gives a new comic edge to her role on stage, along with David Burt as Jim Fenner; they both shine as bright as their costumes when singing together in their duets.

A mention must go out to Maria Charles who perhaps must be the oldest performer in the west-end at the moment, playing old timer Noreen Biggs, every line executed with comic perfection. Other notable performances include Nicole Faraday as Shell Dockley, Amanda Posner as Denny Blood, an almost unrecognisable Rebecca Wheatley as Big Julie and Julie Jupp who plays Little Julie, Jupp really comes to her own, in the touching song “sorry” which made even the hardest of emotional people like myself shed a tear.

All in all this production gives you what you want a fantastic night out, it has a great mix between pathos and humour, great songs, excellent performances and all mixed in with a little bit of camp, as one of the songs in the second act says this show is “The Baddest & The Best.”

Bad Girls the Musical is now on at The Garrick Theatre for more information visit

Photos: Top – Helen Fraser as Sylvia “Bodybag” Hollomby. Bottom – Nicole Faraday as Shell Dockley and Amanda Posner as Denny Blood with other cast members.
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