In September 2016, a new rock musical called 27, written by Sam Cassidy and directed by Arlene Phillips, hit the London fringe scene, about the rise and fall of an aspiring rock star. I was interested in seeing it but for whatever reason, it passed me by and I missed my chance to see it… until now, that is. A year and a half later, 27 has been reworked into Myth, staged at one of my favourite venues, The Other Palace, which, since being taken over by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paul Taylor-Mills early last year, has become a hub for staging and trying out new material in a safe and supportive environment. Myth has become the latest in a number of public workshops held, following well-known shows like Heathers, Bonnie & Clyde, and Starlight Express (also directed by Phillips).
This production has been billed as ‘semi-staged’, but seemed to me to be very well produced with excellent lighting and a fitting set by Nick Eve, with effective sound design by Harry Barker. The minimal costuming also worked as it added to the modern and contemporary feel of the show. Phillips‘ direction was very well thought out and it felt like I was watching a full production, not a workshop, so congrats to her and the other creatives for managing to make everything so slick and polished in a short space of time.
Cassidy’s score is brilliant: although rock scores are fairly prevalent in theatre, few are as true to ‘real’ rock music as this is. It felt fresh and new, and you can tell how passionate he is about this project. I just wish I had a way to hear these songs again as I loved them and to appreciate the score even further, I feel like I need multiple listens. It also felt like a score that you could listen to out of context and would still make sense. Complimenting the score were a fantastic 6-piece band who sounded exquisite under the direction of Matt Nalton and the supervision of Jimi Maddison. Cassidy also wrote the book and I felt like the incorporation and modernisation of the Greek myths were very well done, not feeling shoehorned in at all. Some of the elements may have been difficult to an audience member who didn’t know the original myths but I doubt this would hamper their enjoyment of the show.
Of course, what helped to make the show so brilliant was it’s hugely talented cast. Leading the show as Orpheus was Joel Harper-Jackson who I saw last September in the ensemble of the tour of Curious Incident and automatically wanted to see him do more. Something about him just intrigued me and getting to see him lead this show definitely fulfilled that. His voice is exceptional and he sang the score effortlessly, especially considering how demanding it is. His acting was also wonderful, really moving me in ways I wasn’t expecting to be moved in. He’s a brilliant performer, one who I can’t wait to see in more shows.
Opposite him, as girlfriend Eurydice and bandmates Jason and Theseus, were Diana Vickers, Richard Carson, and Damien Walsh respectively. Vickers (known for appearing in the 5th series of The X Factor, and for starring roles in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and The Rocky Horror Show, the latter of which I was lucky enough to see her in) really showed her skill as an actress in this role. Of course, her voice is gorgeous but she is a very skilled actress and is really compelling to watch, again moving me in ways I didn’t expect. I previously saw Carson when he was understudying for Chris in the West End revival of Miss Saigon and was eager to get to see him again. He didn’t disappoint and it was great to see him in a completely different role. Walsh was delightfully cheeky in his role, clearly having a great time and is another cast member I’ll be sure to keep an eye on.
Also in the cast as the ever-observant Fates, Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis, were Jodie Jacobs, Eloise Davies and Jodie Steele. Jacobs (well known in the theatre community for performances in such shows as Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde, and Carrie the Musical which I saw her in) had the perfect amount of threatening and menacing in her performance as the eldest of the Fates, playing a role that seems completely different for her. She got to show off her phenomenal belt which I loved hearing again. Eloise Davies was a name I was previously unaware of but she’s got a new fan in me. I found her delightfully creepy as she went around trying to sniff out a new star, and her voice is exquisite, mixing the powerful chesty belt of Jacobs with the high and light belt of Steele, who I also thought was brilliant and will be keeping an eye on in the future. These three women constantly caught my attention as they watched and oversaw the story unfold, their use in the show as omnipresent narrators who began to alter the story being very well done.
Also deserving special mention are Zoe Birkett and Matthew McKenna. Birkett was sultry and sexy as Miss M, getting to show off the multiple different flavours to her voice, going from a high belt to bluesy and jazzy throughout the show. McKenna grasped his opportunity to shine as the slimy and manipulative Hades and got to play around with different characters too (a favourite of mine was a very camp talk show host). The ensemble were also extremely talented and had some great harmonies, especially in the finale. I liked that they also each had an opportunity to come to the front in small featured roles, such as the band’s management team or a superfan. To sum it up in a sentence, this is a kickass cast all around and they smashed it!
A new British musical, workshopping at The Other Palace until the 17th March, with an incredible and hardworking cast. Not for everyone, granted, but an extremely well crafted musical that no doubt will have another life somewhere. For updates on the show once it’s run at The Other Palace has ended follow @MythMusical or @sammalcassidy on Twitter. Until then, tickets for this production are available from https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk/whats-on/myth