Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (UK Tour) – Review

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World (UK Tour): Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.

26th July 2022

★★★★★

Kate Pankhurst’s bestselling picture book Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is setting the stage alight and delighting audiences on its UK Tour. Join Jade as she breaks away from her class to take a peek in the Gallery of Greatness, meeting incredible women such as Amelia Earhart, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Frida Kahlo to name just a few. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is an empowering new stage show, perfectly pitched to children and adults alike. Full of iconic history, full on sass and poptastic hits; it is sure to be a huge hit with families.

To change a non-fiction children’s book into a musical is no easy feat but Chris Bush, along with director Amy Hodge, makes it look easy. The audience is quickly introduced to main character Jade, played brilliantly by Elise Zavou, and proceed to make their way through some of the most famous women in this 90-minute musical masterpiece. The music by Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo is fun, upbeat and catchy. There is a mixture of styles incorporated throughout the show from ballads to even Emmeline Pankhurst rapping her way through the suffragette movement. There are certainly some memorable songs including ‘Deeds Not Words‘ and ‘A World of Colour‘ culminating in a fun megamix which audience members are urged to record and join in with. All of this works excellently with the lively characters, modern backdrop and colourful lighting by Zoe Spurr. The set, designed by Joanna Scotcher, remains the same throughout the show but the clever hiding spaces and moveable crates create different elements to aid the storytelling. Choreography by Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, is fast, energetic and again effortlessly blends a mixture of styles.

The small cast work extremely hard throughout the show with most cast members playing several characters. Christina Modestou’s comic timing is excellent at all times. Notably she earns a huge applause as novelist Jane Austen. She is always in character and her facial expressions are hilarious, and not only this but she sure can belt out a high note! Renée Lamb’s ‘Lullaby Little Girl’ as the character of Rosa Parks is beautiful and she certainly knows how to capture the audiences attention. Jade Kennedy brings Frida Kahlo to life onstage and Kirstie Skivington gets the entire crowd cheering when she talks about equality for women, particularly when talking about the right for women to choose what to do with their own bodies. As Emmeline Pankhurst, Skivington gets the whole audience clapping and singing along in the song ‘Deeds Not Words’. The cast, and talented onstage musicians, look like they are having fun throughout and their energy is infectious.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World may have started off life as a children’s picture book but this production is far more than that. It is about empowerment. About realising that you can be what you want to be, achieve what you want to and that no matter who you are – you matter. The well-deserved standing ovation from children all the way through to elderly members of the audience just shows how important these values are. The message of equality is crucial to the show but instead of it being forced upon the audience it is done in a celebration of those women who have come and gone before us, and those yet to come. It is hard to leave the auditorium without feeling uplifted and empowered yourself!

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is playing at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury until the 30th July 2022. For information and tickets click here. For further tour dates and tickets click here.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

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