Miss Nightingale, The Lowry, Salford Quays

‘Fun, flirty and fabulous’
Miss Nightingale, The Burlesque Musical introduces us to the wonderful world of Maggie Brown (Amber Topaz), cheeky, charming and most delightfully Northern with her seriously strong Sheffield accent, Maggie dreams of making it big with the help of her songwriter George (Ilan Goodman), a homosexual Polish Jew who’s fled Berlin in the wake of the Nazis.

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The atmospheric stage within a stage complete with piano, drums, saxophone, clarinet and double base sets the scene perfectly for a story of love and friendship to unfold. Writer and composer Matthew Bugg, who leads the onstage band, has created a delicious score of cheeky numbers that allow our leading lady to shimmy and wiggle her way firmly into our hearts. The particularly saucy ‘Pussy Song’ is wickedly naughty, and a huge hit with the enthralled audience.

With the introduction of show promoter Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Tomm Cloes) the show’s love story can begin, albeit problematic and at times seemingly impossible, I, along with the rest of the audience are willing it to work. Ilan Goodman delivers a wonderful performance as Miss Nightingale’s songwriter George, warm, sensitive and witty despite being haunted by the loss of his beloved Berlin to the clutches of the Nazis. With the help of his lover Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe we see Maggie and George hit the big time before a scandal threatens to end their dreams.

The onstage band and their superb comedy timing complimenting Maggie’s thrusts and high kicks add to the delightful playfulness of the show.

The complexity of being homosexual in the 1940’s is sensitively and thought provokingly portrayed, Goodman and Cloes although playing hugely different characters are perfect in their roles, giving us a glimpse into the turmoil many men of the era must have felt.

With a running time of two and a half hours I expected to be shifting in my seat at some point, how wrong was I, the flirty cabaret numbers keep the show bouncing along whilst the slower more sensitive numbers are touching and delicate. As absolutely brilliant as Amber Topaz is during the cheekier numbers, she excels in the goosebump inducing performance of ‘Bluebird’ a beautifully written piece about her beloved brother Harry who is missing in action.

The onstage band and their superb comedy timing complimenting Maggie’s thrusts and high kicks add to the delightful playfulness of the show. Yes there is teasing but the overall storyline is tender and beautifully written, all in all an absolute treat!

NIKKI HULL
Runs at The Lowry Theatre,
Salford Quays until 22nd June
www.thelowry.com

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