top of page


AD | Gifted tickets in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

CW/TW: Explores mature themes, including life changing illnesses and the loss of loved ones, and contains strong language.


Full company In Dreams - credit: Pamela Raith

On Saturday the 8th of July I took a trip to Yorkshire…well Leeds Playhouse to be more precise, to see a brand new musical which is making its world premiere called ‘In Dreams’.

Leeds Playhouse is a charity theatre, and it has a real modern and welcoming feel to it. With three theatres in the venue, In Dreams plays in the Courtyard theatre, which is a modern tiered auditorium.

In Dreams, follows former lead singer of country rock band Kenna, who as she reaches a critical moment in her life invites her old bandmates to join her at a family-run Mexican restaurant for “the party of a lifetime”, while keeping her true motivations a secret.

Ensemble (Pablo Gómez Jones) Ana Sofia (Alma Cuervo) Nicole (Gabriela García) Kenna (Lena Hall) Ensemble (Fabiola Ocasio) In Dreams. Photo by Pamela Raith

My initial thoughts before seeing the show was that I didn’t know Roy Orbison's music, and how was the show going to incorporate the theme of life-changing illness into a musical? This made me worry about the tone of the show and how this was going to be perceived.

This brand new musical features the music of Roy Orbison. It has a book by David West Read, writer of the multi-award winning &Juliet and What's New Pussycat? Choreography by Fabian Aloise and direction by Luke Sheppard.

With themes of life changing illnesses and the loss of loved ones, the show gives a real perspective on life and also celebrates two different sides of it, from the beginning to the end.

The show runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes including an interval. Like always, my reviews are 100% honest and I will always justify my ratings, thoughts and feelings, always giving constructive feedback and my opinions are my own.

Tom (Leon Craig) with company of In Dreams. Photo by Pamela Raith


As you walk into the Courtyard theatre you're greeted by a brightly lit-up hung logo to the right of the stage, with a stool, guitar and microphone stage left, giving you a concert feel which makes you eager for what's to come.

Director Luke Sheppard’s direction opens the show brilliantly, by engaging the audience by bringing out Kenna, the show's protagonist, in front of the curtain and presenting it as if you're at a concert. This helps the audience get to know the character fairly quickly, helping you build up the foundations of the show's story. Luke carries his direction across the show effectively, and just before the end of the show we see this true loving friendship of all four bandmates.

This makes you think about reconnection and reconnecting with your older friends to check up on them. It's a heartwarming moment that really sticks in your mind.

His direction is powerful and you can see the understanding of character relationships throughout. By using freeze frames and slow motion, while also pulling back the energy of the direction slightly, when the tone of the show shifts in act 2, Luke creates picturesque scenes throughout which are remarkable and brings this show to life.

Full company of In Dreams. Photo by Pamela Raith

After the success of hit musical &Juliet, writer David West Read’s writing is truly something. With my initial worries of the show's themes and incorporation of them, David takes these themes and messages and presents them beautifully and thoughtfully. The script is a mix of funny and emotion, one scene in act 2 which showed the clear theme of friendship, was when all the bandmates were together and Lena Hall's character Kenna says “if one of us goes don’t let this friendship end”, this definitely showed the connection between the four band members and how close they all are. This made me think about the friendships I have, and made me think the true ones will always be by your side no matter what.

The use of spanish in the script was wonderful, and it felt meaningful and helped the message of the show. David writes his characters with great intention and all have an understanding of what part they play to create a story full of heart and beauty.

There's definitely a slight change in tone in act 2, as in act 1 you get fun songs and laughable moments, whereas in act 2 the mood and tone shifts and we do see more character connections. The whole script reflects a message of celebration of life giving you something to think about. David successfully gets the audience to feel every emotion every step of the way and puts life into perspective and makes you think about living life to the fullest, David grips us by creating a story of celebration.

With the show being a jukebox musical, and it having an original story, it’s a tricky task for anyone to make sure the script compliments the music and vice versa. How the show is written and the songs are placed and presented, compliments David's libretto, that actually makes you feel like it's an original score, as all the songs help the story all along the way.

From someone who hadn't heard Roy Orbison songs before, so didn't know what to expect from them, I couldn't fault any of the music and how it made me feel. I smiled throughout the big upbeat numbers, like "Margarita", and then was so engaged in slower ballad style songs, like "Crying".

Fabian Aloise creates fun and uplifting choreography which has you smiling throughout, but at the same time slowing down actions when needed, but not in a complex way as it didn’t need to be. Fabian gives you celebratory choreography which this show is all about, and it was all executed to high standards by the cast and leaves you feeling delighted and with a big grin on your face just like it did with me.


With a cast of 13 this show is an ensemble show, the whole cast pulls together to create a story of great meaning, and all of them create a gripping yet beautiful performance vocally and through character the cast have lively energy which really shows on stage.

Tony award winning Lena Hall, who is making her UK stage debut, plays the show's protagonist Kenna. Lena gives a truly brilliant performance, her characterisation really shows, she puts herself into the characters shoes, which results into a stunning performance not just through the script and dialogue, but vocally as well.

Lena holds the audience throughout and makes you love her character Kenna. Lena’s interaction between herself and Alma Cuervo, who plays Ana Sofia, in act 2 when she finds out Ana Sofia finds out she has had the same illness as herself, this is a heartbreaking but wonderful moment and Lena shows the characters true emotions during this. The chemistry between herself and Oliver Tompsett was amazing and you felt everything between them through their performance.

Vocally Lena’s performance was outstanding, the way Lena sang her heart out added even more layers to her performance. Lena’s stage presence is commanding, the emotion is powerful and all I can say is, it was a wow performance throughout.

Leon Craig is a joy to watch. Leon plays Tom, who is head chef at the restaurant, and mega fan of Heartbreak radio. His character is fun and flamboyant and Leon gives a comedic performance which is shown when he first meets Kenna and the rest of the band. Leon shows Tom's vulnerability when he explains that Tom had met Kenna before, it showed Tom's loving and caring nature. Leon really gives a performance of comedy and has you laughing out loud in his delivery. The audience reaction to Tom’s comedic lines show that they loved Tom. Leon left me loving the character and smiling at the end when he got his dream of singing on Heartbreak radio.

Manuel Pacific who plays Oscar shines on stage, he really expresses the emotion of losing someone brilliantly, by showing the character's vulnerability of still trying to process the loss, and I really loved how he portrayed the character's determination to make his lost loved ones proud. He has created a connection with Gabriella Gacia, who plays Nicole, you can see their love relationship perfectly. Manuel’s vocals are stunning and make you sit back in awe, which really connects you to the character's core objective.

The technical aspects of this production go brilliantly with the action, dialogue and music with Tom Marshall creating bright and fun lighting, then turning it down for softer and quieter moments that really does capture the moment on stage and enhances the audience's journey through the story.

Arnulfo Maldonado creates a minimal but appealing set which is not only simplistic but instantly makes you feel you're in the Mexican restaurant. Both Marshall and Maldonado designs work together in true greatness and are all tied together with George Reeves video design to distinguish the time of day within the show.

In Dreams takes a taboo topic and turns it into a story of celebration. Read’s script and Orbison's music just work no doubt. I may have to say it…could In Dreams be the show that we didn’t know we needed?

It’s funny, bright and also emotional which will leave you wanting to see it again and again.

Go see In Dreams if you can, you'll be gutted if you don’t.

Star rating { ★★★★★ }

Full company In Dreams. Photo by Pamela Raith



In Dreams: A new musical

Courtyard Theatre, Leeds Playhouse

3 July – 5 August.

2 hours 20 minutes (including one interval)

age guide: 16+

{ ⬇️ Follow for the latest updates from me and my theatre travels below ⬇️ }


bottom of page