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Title of Show | Phoenix Arts Club

Perhaps the most meta show ever to exist, [title of show] was spawned when writer Hunter Bell and composer-lyricist Jeff Bowen learned of the inaugural New York Musical Theatre Festival just three weeks before the deadline. The show charts Bell and Bowen’s writing process with friends Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff, and the musical’s journey to the festival and beyond. 

This latest iteration brings it to the Phoenix Arts Club for just four performances, but producer/director Taylor Jay has been ambitious with his development of the production despite the limited run, with the use of live video in particular bringing an additional layer to the show, alongside changing projected backdrops and choreography. Sadly, there were some technical issues on the first night with both lighting and sound suffering as a result, but overall this did not detract from the accomplished and energetic performances on stage.

The show has a small cast, with Hunter and Jeff portrayed by George Crawford and Thomas Oxley respectively. The two played off each other well, endearing their characters to the audience. Abbie Budden as Heidi was a standout, displaying excellent comic timing and a fabulous singing voice, while Melissa McCabe as Susan banged the drum for understudies everywhere, as she played the role with warmth and humour. Musical director Ben Ward rounded out the performers on stage as Larry, who as well as providing musical accompaniments also interacted with the rest of the cast.

The book itself moves from the meta to the downright ridiculous, with a number of bizarre dream sequences which provoke plenty of laughs. It is also packed full of theatre references, with one song (‘Monkeys and Playbills’) being composed largely of the titles of other shows strung together. 

All in all, this is definitely a show for the theatre kids, but at the same time its tale of resilience, following your dreams and banishing your inner critic will find resonance with those struggling to make it in any creative industry.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Danny Kaan


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