Nativity! The Musical, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until December 7.
With its fantastic finale, Nativity! The Musical is the perfect introduction to the festive season, an exuberant, joyful, warm-hearted extravaganza which will put you in exactly the right mood for all the festivities ahead.
And it all comes with the perfect Christmas message as Messrs Maddens and Poppy battle it out for the souls of the children in their care.
Scott Garnham gives a genuinely lovely performance as Mr Maddens, the teacher who’s lost his way. Unlucky in love, he’s lost his faith – most crucially in the children’s he’s supposed to be nurturing at the failing Coventry school where he’s now working.
Enter mad Mr Poppy (excellent again from Scott Paige), a gush of enthusiasm who never plays by the rules for the simple reason that he doesn’t even know they exist. Instead he follows his own empowering instincts, absolutely convinced – self-fulfillingly so – that every child is amazing.
He quickly wins over the children, but can he win over “grumpy” Mr Maddens? Well, I think we all know how it goes. It’s all about seeing the huge potential each and every child carries within – and by seeing it, releasing it.
The result is terrific to watch.
Along the way there are some lovely performances from the large cast of kiddies, nice work from Dani Dyer as Hollywood producer Polly Parker and some fabulous singing from Ashleigh Gray as Jennifer Lore.
Put it all together, and they show that with belief and sheer kindness, you can make the most innocent of white lies come gloriously true.
Great fun all round… though given the target audience, it’s difficult not to wonder, however enjoyable the night, whether it isn’t actually ten minutes or so too long. Less might have been even more.
Oh, and that joke about Prince Andrew. Utterly out of place, inappropriate and distasteful… given just how serious the Andrew issues are.