The Cockpit Theatre, tucked down a little side street in Marylebone, is one of the larger off-West End venues, and as such, needs a larger than life production to fill the space. ‘27’, the new musical from Sam Cassidy and Matt Wills, co-directed by Arlene Phillips, manages to deliver this, and then some!
The storyline is certainly an interesting one, 27 is the age that many of our greatest music talents have passed away. Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain, for example. In the musical ‘27’ we meet 23-year-old ‘Orpheus,’ also known as ‘Jimmy’ and his band ‘The Argonauts.’ Desperate for fame ‘Orpheus,’ already a drug user, is dealt a lucky hand by ‘Fate,’ but will he still feel so lucky four years later…aged 27?
The first act follows a conventional structure, setting the scene and effectively taking us on a four-year journey. The second act gets a little more surreal as we enter the drug-addled mind of ‘Orpheus,’ but overall it works well, managing to be both touching and comical in places.
Greg Oliver as ‘Orpheus’ is truly outstanding; he manages to give an intense performance that grips you from the outset; he looks, acts and sounds every bit the international rockstar. Cassie Compton gives a beautiful performance as ‘Amy,’ she captures the essence of the character and then pushes it to its boundaries.
‘Max’ is played by Jack Donnelly, who is a delight to watch. He is the typical best friend character, yet Donnelly draws so much more out of the dialogue and accompanied by ‘Jason,’ played by Ryan Gibb, they make a formidable team as ‘The Argonauts.’ Lucy Martin as ‘Ms. M’ plays the seductress with much conviction and aplomb.
The three actresses portraying ‘Fate’; Maisey Bawden, Eloise Davies and Jodie Jacobs are wickedly good and have some of the best songs. The score from Matt Wills is a beautiful mix of enchanting ballads, uplifting melodies and full on rock. There is little doubt that this is a musical theatre classic in the making.
As if the stunning cast and beautiful score weren’t enough, the choreography from Ryan-Lee Seager and Lucy Martin is on point; every single movement adds something wonderful to the production. To add to the list of plaudits, the lighting design from Nick Eve is bold and innovative and makes this a visually stunning production.
Unbelievably, this is the first musical Sam Cassidy has written. He has managed to create an excellent piece of theatre that will delight audiences at The Cockpit and, if we are very lucky, on to the West End.