Theatre Review: Lost Boy - A New Musical - Charing Cross Theatre ✭

Lost Boy - A New Musical

Charing Cross Theatre

Review by Duncan Brown

Tuesday 14th January 2014: In Mark Shenton's Best and Worst of 2013 Review, his worst list includes "nearly everything staged at Charing Cross Theatre". I regret to report that, in my opinion, this new musical, transferring from the Finborough Theatre, will do little to change his mind.

As a champion of new musical theatre writing I really wanted to like this piece but it is just too overloaded with ideas and styles that create confusion and disparity rather than a cohesive whole. In his Director's Note writer and composer Phil Wilmott describes lots of projects "whirring around in my head"; unfortunately, rather than sorting these out he has decided to include all of those ideas in one musical, so we get Peter Pan, the children's classic, fused with the pacifist thinking of Jung and the 100th anniversary of the Great War.

The production is not helped generally by the cast who despite their obvious enthusiasm give it the feel of a student production, with choreography that seemed to encompass too many contemporary styles and that was generally poorly executed to decidedly cheap and unflattering costumes, particularly for the girls.

I presume it was a deliberate casting decision to cast Peter so against type. Steven Butler is quite effective at the end, displaying real emotion but is rather let down by an under par singing voice, looking positively uncomfortable at times with twitching hands.

Grace Gardner's Wendy also seemed to struggle vocally to begin with although came into her own in Act Two's pseudo Wicked epic Wendy's Song, although it wasn't helped by a seemingly contemporary pas de deux.

There were exceptions, however. Joseph Taylor's Michael was effective in Music Hall, describing how he fell in love with a trapeze artist although I'm not sure this was quite what JM Barrie intended by "It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly", as the programme note states! Why though, was the song contemporary musical theatre when about, set in and called Music Hall?

Richard James-King also acquitted himself well as John, particularly in the opening number of Act Two, Jungian Dream Analysis, slightly reminiscent of The Book Of Mormon's Spooky Mormon Hell Dream. As much as I enjoyed the production number, though, it felt like it belonged in a completely different musical as the story became even more preposterous as Act Two progressed from the ludicrous Panto Hook (Andrew C. Wandsworth) on opium in Dragons, a Paris showgirl Tiger Lily (Natalie Lipin) in Ooh La La and an ill-conceived song for a prostitute Tinker Bell (Joanna Woodward) as she died- you cannot convincingly sing whilst you die! Worst of all was a kick line number, What About Me And You? which actually seemed to include zombies!

The whole denouement of Field Marshall Hook and a gung-ho General Pan was tasteless and made me feel uncomfortable and it's inference could be construed as disrespectful to the memory of all those who fought for their country by laying down their lives.

The soon to be revived Oh What A Lovely War at Stratford East shows how this subject can be handled with sensitivity and yet still make a compelling anti-war statement.

In the words of Michael in Music Hall, "A cock's a cock, a hen's a hen" but this ill-conceived musical, I regret to say is more of a turkey.

One star ✭

Listings Info

Charing Cross Theatre (formerly New Players Theatre), The Arches, Villiers Street, London WC2N 6NL
Box Office 08444 930650 (booking fee applies). 
Book online at (booking fee applies). 
Or in person at Charing Cross Theatre (no booking fee applies)
Monday, 13 January – Saturday, 15 February 2014
Mondays to Saturday evenings at 7:30pm. Saturday Matinees at 3.00pm.
Tickets: £15.00 - £24.50 (note: slips at £15.00; balcony - £19.50 and stalls £24.50)

Performance Length: Approximately two hours with one interval of fifteen minutes.