This isn’t a sponsored post.
BrumHour was invited to the media night of Unfortunate by Birmingham Hippodrome.
From Fat Rascal Theatre who previously brought a twisted version of Beauty and the Beast and Vulvarine fringe productions to Birmingham comes… Unfortunate!
By Julie Wallis twitter.com/NiceNic63
Book and Lyrics by Robyn Grant and Daniel Foxx.
Unfortunate (The untold story of Ursula the Sea Witch) is a musical in Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Theatre all this week and it is wonderful. A parody of the Disney musical this is better than the source material.
In a similar vein to Wicked, it presents the “real” story of why Ursula the sea witch became so mean. A young Ursula (Robyn Grant) arrives at a party held by the Old King to find a wife for the upcoming new king Triton (Steffan Rizzi). Though new king Triton and Ursula have an instant attraction the old king forbids this union and Ursula is banished back to the dark waters. Falsely accused of a murder, Ursula is left lonely and bitter.
Some years later, King Triton’s daughter Ariel (Katie Wells) rescues Prince Eric (Jamie Manson) from a shipwreck, Ursula sees her chance for revenge and offers princess Ariel a deal. All of this takes place underwater with creatures of the deep in almost every scene too. Then there was Sebastian (Allie Munro) who gives us plenty of laughs and looks amazing as the five foot crab.
Very cleverly done, the cast are joined onstage by small swimming fish or sometimes the more sinister but equally captivating eels Flotsam and Jetsam. The fish are puppets and both the puppetry and the actual puppets are magic. The last time I saw such good puppetry was in a production of Avenue Q. Puppets allow for a twenty-foot great white shark to be part of the show.
With a suggested minimum age of 14+, this is another very adult show but apart from some very strong language and a small bit of partial nudity this is great family fun if your family are now grown up. I’d not hesitate to take my 15-year-old granddaughter.
Robyn Grant as Ursula made for a wickedly fun character, larger than life (literally in the end) she sashays her way across the ocean floor and for the most of the show she is getting laughs. Big, bold and beautiful she looks and sounds every inch the part. She was my favourite character of the entire production, which was a really difficult call because everyone was so very good.
Ariel was good at being ditzy and when she had her voice she was pure ITV Essex girl. Again a character that gives a lot, Miss Wells makes for a charming mermaid, naive and playful with her friend Flounder.
Prince Eric was played perfectly; funny, vain and shallow as the object of Ariel’s affections, this handsome prince was not so much a Prince Charming but more prince Edward than Prince Andrew.
There is no scenery as such, a blue tinsel backdrop curtain which is the sea. But there are still some spectacular special effects. It’s all about the lighting for the most but I did love the scene where Ursula makes herself into a giant sea hag. Again it’s very clever and very funny but I’m not going to give any spoilers. Enough to say she is about two hundred feet tall!
This is a musical and all of the songs felt familiar, some had obvious similarities to the Disney counterparts, others just sounded very musical theatre. But they were all instantly hummable.
Fabulously funny and slightly dark in places this is most definitely an adult show I loved it throughout.
Unfortunate is at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sunday 22nd December. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/unfortunate-the-untold-story
This isn’t a sponsored post.
When not blogging theatre for #BrumHour, Julie Wallis can be found on her own blog at redandgoldweb.wordpress.com