The Life of the Party is a musical revue celebrating the work of Broadway composer Andrew Lippa, who has written such great musicals as The Wild Party, The Addams Family, and Big Fish. Lippa is a modern Broadway legend, and this revue does not disappoint. Delivering the very best of Lippa in a slick, professional and exciting showcase, it is high-quality, high-energy theatre, and a real must-see.
Even if I had no idea who Andrew Lippa was, and had never heard any of his music or seen any of his musicals, I am sure I would still have loved this show. The revue is very well put together and gives a great balance of light and shade which allows the audience to feel the music very deeply where it is needed, and to sit back and enjoy more light-hearted numbers. Giving a comprehensive overview of his works, it is the perfect introduction to Lippa’s music, and perfect for long-time fans looking to see him at his best.
Lynne Page’s choreography is simple but effective, breathing life into show-stopping numbers and lending a sense of focus to character performances. It was particularly strong in ‘Death is Just Around the Corner’, in which it really helped end the first act on a high. Also noteworthy is Tim Lutkin’s lighting design, which lit the singers really well, in addition to spotlighting key features of set that gave keys to context and bringing out a couple of great visual gags.
The highlights of the revue were undoubtedly the extracts from Lippa’s best-loved works. Caroline O’Connor was completely brilliant in her roles here, charming and hilarious as both Morticia Addams and Madeleine True, with her rendition of ‘An Old-Fashioned Love Story’ as the latter character receiving riotous applause. Above all her performance of ‘I Don’t Need A Roof’from Big Fish was utterly heart-breaking and touching.
Indeed, all vocal performances were near flawless. Damien Humbley was on great comic form as Uncle Fester in ‘The Moon and Me’ from The Addams Family, and as a stern nun in ‘Christ Almighty’, an exciting look into one of Lippa’s ongoing projects; Summer Strallen showed remarkable versatility in moving between child characters and sultry femmes fatale with ease; Lippa sang with great feeling, and was utterly charming and charismatic throughout.
Without a doubt, The Life of the Party is among the finest musical revues one can find in London theatre, and an evening very well spent.
The Life of the Party is at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 14 June. For more information and tickets, see the Menier Chocolate Factory website.