Baddies: The Musical is Nancy Harris and Marc Teitler’s passion project that not only shows a different side to classical fairytale villains, but also challenges the definitions of good and bad. But while the show is genuinely entertaining for both kids and adults, with the numerous fairytale reboots, retellings and modern adaptations nowadays it is difficult to find anything groundbreakingly new about this musical.
We open with the Big Bad Wolf (Dean Nolan) who is dressed in Granny’s clothes and is about to devour Red Riding Hood (Kathy Rose O’Brien), when suddenly the story is shut down by two policemen. The Big Bad Wolf is arrested and the story cannot be finished. In his cell he finds the two Ugly Sisters from Cinderella (Claire Sundin and Kelly Agbowu), Captain Hook (Miles Yekinni) and Rumplestiltskin (David McKay), who is constantly bullied for not being villainous enough. They are all unsure of why they got arrested, but when Cinderella (O’Brien) and Peter Pan (Christian Roe) enter the prison, the lines between good and bad start to blur.
The production has plenty of charm, humour and fun. Nolan gives a great performance as the Big Bad Wolf; his charisma and excellent comic timing make his character loveable and relatable. Roe’s Peter Pan is hilariously narcissistic and incredibly modern, giving the classic character an edgy update. Both the cast and the live band give a great show, with some truly excellent voices in the mix – especially Agbowu’s, whose vocal performance is a real stand-out for me. Yet something about the production doesn’t quite click. Too frequently we find awkward gaps in between songs, as if the cast is waiting for each other to carry on the performance. This issue in the pacing is very apparent in the tech of the show as well, since many times the light cues don’t match up with the tempos of the songs or the scenes. These might be small errors, but they really ruin the flow of the performance and create a sense of disconnection.
Harris and Teitler’s book and music, albeit not incredibly fresh, are entertaining and get a good amount of laughs. The children are fully engaged and their responses really add to the atmosphere of the show. The musical is indeed at its strongest when it breaks the fourth wall and includes its audience in the performance. No matter how old you are, you will definitely have a good time watching.
Baddies: The Musical is playing at the Unicorn Theatre until 24 December. For more information and tickets, see the Unicorn Theatre website.