Nativity! The Musical

Belgrade Theatre Coventry


Nativity! is an absolute winner. The stage musical based on the film has all the charm of the film plus the live element that provides a really joyful, exhilarating experience.

The children in the show are wonderful, Mr Poppy (Simon Lipkin) is amazing in the role and as narrator to guide our steps at the start. He is obviously so good with the children, who make up the majority of the cast and clearly those in the audience were just as beguiled.

The story is based in Coventry around a Christmas nativity play performed in a Catholic primary school of ‘underachievers’. Paul Madden (Scott Garnham) as ‘volunteer’ director has to impress, not only his headteacher Mrs Bevan (Jemma Churchill), but also rival Gordon Shakespeare at the posh prep school, Oakdale, where resources are easier to find, the children are clean and keen and the Coventry Evening Telegraph critic Patrick Burns (Jamie Chapman) consistently rates as five-star performances. St Bernadette’s received minus two!

Gordon, Paul and Paul’s girlfriend Jennifer Lore (Ashleigh Gray) have known each other from school, all studied at the Midlands Academy of Dramatic Art and then Jennifer has followed her heart to Hollywood leaving Paul and Cracker the dog broken-hearted.

Here’s the spoiler alert. One little lie snowballs. But what is clever is that Mr Poppy, a simple soul, sees through the other, bigger lie that Paul no longer cares for Jennifer. Whether you believe that Hollywood will come to Coventry is in the end immaterial, what makes the show special is that Jennifer comes back.

The scene where the children write to Santa would melt the heart of a statue, songs are great, set wonderful particularly in recreating the Cathedral ruins, real band in the pit and, I have to say, the audience leapt to their collective feet before the final chord and cheered to the rafters.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely, and without hesitation. There were people next to me who hadn’t seen the original film and their reaction was exactly the same – brilliant. Written and directed by Debbie Issett it runs to 28-10-18

Jane Howard


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