Review: The Smallest Show on Earth

Brian Capron and Liza Goddard (photo by Alastair Muir)

Brian Capron and Liza Goddard (photo by Alastair Muir)

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
Until: Saturday 31 October 2015
Performance Reviewed: Monday 26 October 2015
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

The Smallest Show on Earth is a new musical based on the 1957 British Lion film starring Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford. Written by Thom Southerland and Paul Alexander, this new production uses music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, including the songs Blue Skies, Shaking the Blues Away, What’ll I Do? and Steppin’ Out With My Baby

It’s slightly risky to take songs already written by someone as well known as Irving Berlin and put them into a new musical, but it works, because even if the storyline is new to you, at least a couple of the songs will be familiar.

Newly-weds Matthew and Jean Spenser inherit a cinema and think their fortune is made. But the Bijou, better known as the fleapit, is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign from its rival flashy neighbour The Grand. The Bijou’s benevolent manageress Mrs Fazackalee and unreliable projectionist Mr Quill combine with Matt and Jean to outwit the opposition and restore the Bijou to its former glory.

The plot is pretty straightforward with no huge twists or turns but it is enjoyable and heart-warming, which is nice on a cold Autumn night.

The biggest names in this new production are Liza Goddard (Take Three Girls, Bergerac, Grandpa in my Pocket) as Mrs Fazackalee and Brian Capron (Coronation Street, Where the Heart Is, Grange Hill) as Mr Quill. Both perform brilliantly, with some great comic moments and songs.

The newly-weds are well-played by Haydn Oakley and Laura Pitt-Pulford – their excitement at the beginning of the show is palpable, that they’re doing a great job in keeping the audience attention. Their rendition of Always is particularly beautiful.

Ricky Butt as Ethel Hardcastle and Philip Rham as Albert Hardcastle have the audience booing at the end – this is not a negative though – they are the villains of the production and the Glasgow audience clearly enjoy the performance.

Christina Bennington as Marlene Hardcastle and Sam O’Rourke as Tom Fazackalee give us the ‘awww’ factor and steal the show with Steppin’ Out With My Baby.

Lastly, Matthew Crowe as Robin Carter brings the house down with his hilarious one-liners and his turn as the ‘Sloughborough Songbird’.

The Smallest Show on Earth is a new (yet not-so-new) musical that will make you laugh and warm your heart. Make sure you see while it’s in town.

For tickets, visit Smallest Show on Earth Glasgow tickets.