REVIEW: FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS @ THE PRINCESS THEATRE
🎭 Fisherman's Friends The Musical
📍 Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5EZ
🗓 Wednesday 5th April 2023
I'M O-FISH-ALLY HOOKED ON THE CODFATHER OF MUSICALS!
From the moment the curtain rose on Fisherman's Friends The Musical last night at Torquay's Princess Theatre, the story by Amanda Whittington (which is based on the screenplay of the 2010 movie) takes you on a voyage to a Cornish paradise full of community spirit, friendship, family and the world's first 'Buoy Band'!
There is something very authentic and timeless about this piece. I loved how you felt a great warmth emitting from the stage. You really felt the sense of community and the love that the characters have for each other. At times I forgot I was in the theatre watching a performance and just felt swept along and immersed into the story.
The whole piece just felt natural and a huge part of this is down to the direction by James Grieve and the choreography by Matt Cole, who has just won an Olivier award for his choreography of Newsies.
The authenticity is critical for this piece, and the speech patterns and phrases work to create a wonderful familiarity for audiences in the South West, without alienating an audience from other parts of the country.
The real star of the show, as to be expected, are the vocals. Individually, each of the Fisherman's Friends have great voices, but when they come together to perform something magical happens and they create a truly wondrous sound. When singing acappella, I sat there and listened in awe as I received what can only be described as a warm vocal hug.
The Fisherman's Friends are made up of James Gaddas as Jim, Robert Duncan as Jago, Pete Gallagher as Leadville, Dan Buckley as Rowan, Martin Carroll as Wiggy, Hadrian Delacey as Archie, Dominic Brewer as Yestin, Dakota Starr as Ben and Nick Tizzard as Frank.
Gaddas has a real rough edge to his voice which is a delight and Gallagher's sublime deep velvet tones add a real depth and warmth to the performance. There is honestly not a weak link on the stage and you can really feel the camaraderie amongst the guys.
They are all accomplished performers and I was especially drawn to Buckley. He gives off a great energy and obviously has a real love for his art which draws you to him whenever he's on stage. He also had great characterisation as the pub landlord struggling to stay afloat and juggling the responsibilities of being a new dad with running his business and going out on the boat fishing.
Gallagher is another performer that is joyous to watch. His character is slightly eccentric and arguably had some of the funniest lines in the show, but Gallagher never overplayed them and the way he delivered his lines, like they had literally just popped into his head, made them even better!
The standout performance for me personally though came from Parisa Shahmir as Alwyn. She had a beautiful folksy style to her voice and when it was just her and her guitar I was mesmerised. Her vocals were truly outstanding and I found myself closing my eyes when she sang so that I could just bathe in the beauty of her voice without any distractions. She had a wonderful purity to her voice and I could imagine being sat around a campfire and listening to her perform. She created a real intimate feel which is hard to do in an auditorium full of people.
She also portrayed her character extremely well and you could really feel her inner turmoil as she struggled with emotions and decisions.
Jason Langley played Danny, the London music exec who is visiting the area and discovers the Fisherman's Friends. Danny os obviously very different to the rest of the characters on stage but he has a great personal story arc and Langley gives a wonderfully believable performance.
Other notable performances came from Janet Mooney as the caring matriarch Maggie and Louisa Beadel as Leah. Mooney gave a gorgeous sensitive performance and it was as if she was the mother of the entire community. I believe that Beadel was covering the role of Leah for the very first time, but her professionalism, talent and commitment to the role meant that you felt as if she'd been playing the role forever.
I also have to give a special mention to the incredibly talented musicians led by Musical Director James William-Pattinson. Not only do they all play a myriad of instruments but they essentially create the ensemble which means they are very much part of the action and they even sing and have some lines of dialogue.
This is a truly heartwarming story and a theatrical experience that I want to have again and again. I saw this production when the tour opened in Plymouth last year and this time round it seemed much more polished. There have been some changes since I last saw it in cast, dialogue and choreography but they all seem to have improved the show and I was blown away by just how fun the show is.
The show is also technically very strong, and the incredible set by Lucy Osborne works on so many levels, even though it had to be slightly reduced to fit on the stage of the Princess Theatre! The way the fishing boat is done is a masterpiece and Johanna Town's lighting design is just perfect to round off this sow.
There was nothing that I didn't love about this production and if you want a great night out at the theatre and to witness some gloriously tight harmonies and angelic vocals, then this is absolutely the show for you. It kind of redefines what a musical is and effortlessly transports you into the heart of Port Isaac.
Fisherman's Friends The Musical has dropped anchor in Torquay and continues at the Princess Theatre until Saturday 8th April. Head to www.atgtickets.com/venues/princess-theatre-torquay to check availability and to book tickets.
Lots more show information can be found at www.fishermanonstage.com and if you can't make it to Torquay the show will be docking in Truro next week before sailing into Cambridge, Bristol, Glasgow and finally Wimbledon.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.
My tickets for this performance were gifted by the Princess Theatre who invited me to the Gala Night to review the production. The fact that my tickets were gifted played no part in my star rating for this review.
CAST AT THIS PERFORMANCE:
James Gaddas as Jim; Jason Langley as Danny; Parisha Shahmir as Alwyn; Robert Duncan as Jago; Janet Mooney as Maggie; Pete Gallagher as Leadville; Dan Buckley as Rowan; Louisa Beadel as Leah; Martin Carroll as Wiggy; Hadrian Delacey as Archie; Dominic Brewer as Yetsin; Hazel Monaghan as Sally; Dakota Starr as Ben; Nick Tizzard as Frank; Hazel Askew as Ann / Musician; Hannah Cumming as Freya / Musician; Alfie Gidley as Bran / Musician; Beccy Hurst as Gracie / Musician; John O'Mahony as Eddy / Musician; Hazel Simmons as Elys / Musician; James William-Pattison as Owen / Musician
RUN TIME (approx):
2 hours 40 minutes, including interval
The Princess Theatre is part of the Ambassadors Theatre Group and is situated on Torquay's beautiful seafront and is a South Devon showcase for the best West End and touring productions.