REVIEW | SUPERYOU THE MUSICAL - LIVE IN CONCERT
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TW/CW - SuperYou contains themes of Death & Grief
A new musical is in the works…SuperYou the Musical played a one night only concert production at the Lyric Theatre in London. SuperYou is still in its development stages, but last night it took to the Lyric stage for one night only, making its West End debut and I got the chance to see it.
With the book, lyrics and music all written by Lourds Lane, Lourds also plays within the show. SuperYou tackles themes like death, grief, self discovery and self-love. SuperYou follows Katie, who is a comic book artist, who discovers about self-love and her own voice as Superheroines, which Katie has created, come to life.
After getting the opportunity to see it in a workshop last year, my initial thoughts of this show was; what were the changes going to be? How many differences were there going to be? and would these changes work or not?
SuperYou ran for 2 hours and 20 minutes including one 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. As SuperYou is a new show and still in development, this is my view, not a full review.
I would like to note before carrying on, that SuperYou is only developing and in early stages, the show had music stands, chairs and stage directions, plus location changes being read out for us as the audience, to get a feel of what a fully staged production would/could look like. It takes a long long time to get any show to the West End, I didn’t expect big full sets, costumes and dance numbers as I knew that this was another part of the early stages of making a musical, I went in with an open mind to see this and everyone did a great job of getting this show on its feet onto a West End stage.
With the show being still in development stages and a concert production, the show didn’t really have much direction to it, but what it did have was good. JoAnn M Hunter's direction and choreography showed us a way a fully staged version could be, and I think the direction could be so good in a, hopefully, fully staged production. You could see the ideas from JoAnn, with the direction and choreography from Young Katie (played by Aaliyah Monk), brother Matty (played by Jonty Peach), and Mi-Roar (played by Will Bolzer), which was great to see the kind of choreography this show is going for. The cast mainly stood behind music stands and read from the script, which is what I expected from a concert style of a new show in development, and the stage directions to give the audience a look at what a bigger production could be, with also images on a screen to show location (bedroom, office, cafe) and with pictures of drawn creations were displayed on the screen with the projections done by Caite Hevner.
Written by Lourds Lane, Lourds gives some very heartfelt moments between Young Katie and Matty, with getting Matty to encourage Young Katie to be herself and to do what she loves and that is writing comics, the brother and sister relationship was really well written. You can see there's been a lot of heart and love written into the script, and you really see that Lourds wants every character to speak for themselves and yes they do, but what I would like is a bit more on reasons why Katie likes to write comics. Yes there's a few funny bits between Katie and also the character Jay, and also with Superheroines here and there throughout, but the show definitely has a more hopeful and serious tone to it. Lourds has a vision for SuperYou and ran with it, and the majority of the ideas do work, such as a non speaking role of the “mom” (played by Maddy Brennan), this speaks volume, with “mom” basically displaying a different way of saying what she wants to say, as she can’t find the words to express what she wants to say, so does this physically through dance, and the moment of realisation is written with good thought and feeling.
But I think there's so many ideas that makes the shows act one quite long, and with some of the songs feeling like an interval is coming, some ideas need to be thought about to see if they could be either trimmed down a little or cut completely. I love seeing a new show's development and seeing little tweaks and changes made to the songs, book and also the music itself. Personally I do feel that SuperYou’s future can be a bright one, but with a long act one and having moments within it that felt like an interval was coming, it does need a few changes to maybe shorten it a little and also help the story be a bit more understable for people who might not understand it but apart from that, what Lourds’s writing does, it comes from the heart and you see that it has through the performance of the cast.
Lourds Lane also did the music and lyrics for this show, SuperYou has a very mixed bag of musical styles, from blues to hip hop to country and pop, there is not one or two stuck to genres like most musicals do, and I think this really shows through the personalities of the characters and helps to show the story going forward. The songs are really well written and some of the messages of the songs are really powerful such as “Light of the World '' and “Stronger Now”, both songs are really well written and have a joyous feel to them. The songs have gone through a few changes from the concept cast recording and workshop, these mainly being lyric changes, but also musically. SuperYou’s music is not just one style and genre, it's many that are collected together to bring the message and themes to the story.
The cast was made up of 12 performers, and this works well as a smaller number of cast members allows the show to get straight to the point, with clear characters for the audience to see, not all shows needs a large cast when the dialogue and songs can deliver the message you need them to and they did that last night.
The whole cast put so much work into bringing their characters to life and to tell the story of SuperYou in a concert form without all the set, staging, etc and there was no one on the stage who didn’t give the audience a great performance.
Lucie Jones, who plays Katie, showed us exactly who Katie was. Lucie reflected on Young Katie’s days to show us what the characters objectives were and you could see the emotion and reflectiveness in Lucie’s character. The audience reaction was amazing at the end of Lucie’s songs, her voice was a great match for Lourds songs.
Joni Ayton-Kent played Seven, Joni had some fantastic vocals that really went well with the songs and other Superheroines. I really felt that Joni took the character of Seven and made it her own.
I could talk about all the cast members as there were some great performances / vocals from the likes of Jenny O’Leary, Luke Brady, Sharon Ballard and obviously Lourds Lane. It was good to see the varied and fantastic voices that can carry so many music genres in one musical.
After seeing the workshop and now the concert, I can see that SuperYou has the potential to be on a West End stage. Yes there are some tweaks, but that is the same for every new musical, what this show gives is something new, something for a new generation. I am looking forward to what the future holds for SuperYou, it gives a message of self discovery which is very much written with a lot of heart.
As I have said, this is my view, not a full review, as SuperYou is a new show still in development, but SuperYou is definitely a show that could take the West End by storm, I’m hoping to see this show having a fully staged production, so I can see more of the creative ideas come to life.