Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World – Theatre Royal Stratford East, London

Reviewer: Christine Stanton

Music: Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilvio

Lyrics: Chris Bush and Miranda Cooper

Director: Amy Hodge

Everyone changes the world in their own way, but there are some people who make such an impact that they have completely amended the course of history. Prominent figures such as Marie Curie, Rosa Parks or Emmeline Pankhurst are women who quite simply, are fantastically great. Matilda meets Six in this brightly coloured, energetically educational poptastic musical.

When Jade accidentally strays from her class during a school trip, she stumbles across the not-yet-open ‘gallery of greatness’ exhibit. Waiting for someone to notice she’s gone, she feels disappointed and alone, desperate for some guidance on how to let her voice be heard. Who better to advise than some of history’s most ferocious females?! Frida Kahlo expresses the importance of creativity, Amelia Earhart instils a zest for adventure, while Mary Seacole allows Jade to see the importance of not giving up even when the obstacles in your way seem impossible to overcome. Inspired and informed, Jade feels ready to take on the world, making an impact, one choice at a time.

This uniquely encouraging musical is a wonderful educational tool for both children and adults alike. Not only will you learn about the amazing women that have made an effect on the world but have a brilliantly fun time doing so! The show is adapted by Chris Bush from Kate Pankhurst’s picture books, using language within the script that is easy to understand, yet not childish or patronising for the adults in the audience, which makes it a perfect family-friendly, inspirational, feel-good show.

Joanna Scotcher’s set and costume designs are impeccable, creatively using the space provided to engulf the audience into each world, while being visually fascinating within every scene. Characters pop out of the same storage crates that are then turned into airplanes, taking inspiration from childlike imagination and play, while adding a refined adult spin to appeal to the masses. Colourful fabrics and bold visuals add the ‘wow’ moments such as during Frida Kahlo’s (Jade Kennedy) excellent song In A World Of Colour, or when Gertrude Ederle starts to swim her way to Olympic victory.

Kudzai Mangombe as Jade has a long future ahead of her as an actor. Her superb portrayal of adolescent innocence and childlike wonder is engagingly endearing, truly believable that she’s finding her path in life and figuring everything out on the way. Jade Kennedy (Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Sacagawea) even further brightens up the stage every time she graces it her energy is infectious and keeps the audience in awe. Renée Lamb (Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Mary Seacole) is hilarious within her portrayal of Earhart, adding a comedic element to the show, yet her gentle, considered portrayal of Parks is emotionally touching. Christina Modestou (Jane Austen, Mary Anning) has incredible singing ability, hitting the high notes during her song as Jane Austen in ways that should give her a lot of pride, and definitely no prejudice! Kirstie Skivington (Emmeline Pankhurst, Agent Fifi, Miss Johnson) is fiercely assertive within all of her roles, rousing the audience to chant along with her Deeds Not Words number.

Each of the women within this show are just as fantastically great as the characters they embody and should be proud to be making their own impact on the world by ensuring that these historical tales continue to be retold. This is not just a fun singalong musical (although it has this in abundance) it’s a memoir of the past, with positive inspiration for the future generations.

Runs until 17 July 2022 then continues to tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Energetically Educational

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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