Tag Archives: Rich Watkins

Tickle: The Musical

★★★★

King’s Head Theatre

Tickle: The Musical

Tickle: The Musical

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 16th October 2019

★★★★

 

“the full-on Las Vegas style finale, ‘What Would Julie Andrews Do?’ sends the audience out into the night on a whoosh of feathers, fantasy and fun”

 

Tickle is based on a true story, and invites the audience into the strange world of competitive endurance tickling. Best friends Chris and Callum, skint and stuck in a boring town, get recruited as a tickle team by savvy businesswoman Davina Diamond, on behalf of her boss Tina Tickle. They quickly rise to the very top and are making more money than they could have dreamed of, but neither the tickling world, nor their friendship, is as straightforward as it seems. Chris Burgess (book, music and lyrics) has fashioned a delightful and playfully sexy new musical from this tale, and his four strong cast, directed by Robert McWhir, and with fabulous piano accompaniment from musical director David Eaton, do him proud.

The show’s opening number – Drab Town – is let down by its choreography, which lacks clarity, but we get a taster of James McDowell’s lovely voice, which only opens out more as the show goes on. This is McDowell’s professional musical debut, and we will most assuredly be hearing more from him. He doesn’t quite convince as a working class lad, however, and as his voice becomes richer and stronger, so his accent morphs back into his native tones. His performance becomes more natural as a result, but his character – Chris – seems to have entirely changed. This lack of consistency doesn’t really matter in the context of this light-hearted musical confection, but is something to watch. Ben Brooker, as Callum, on the other hand, is fully believable throughout, as Chris’ lovelorn best friend, but his vocal strength is inconsistent, and he doesn’t always fully hit his musical mark.

Amy Sutton is terrific as Davina, and owns the stage with sparkling charisma and a powerful, clear singing voice. Her introductory solo – the splendidly funny ‘It’s not Gay’ – gives the show the injection of oomph it needs, and allows it to drive forwards with energy and chutzpah. In this, she is aided and abetted by Rich Watkins, who is a marvellous drag Tina Tickle. Tina is a larger than life, tragi-comic creation, switching between poignant loneliness and battle-axe camp, with more than a whiff of Norma Desmond, and Watkins plays her with delicious performative relish. Tina and Davina are a formidable team, though, again, they are let down by clunky choreography, noticeable especially in their duet, ‘The Tickle Twosome’.

For the most part, the show zips along, and wears its combination of titillation, tenderness and tinsel with aplomb. There are laughs aplenty, and the full-on Las Vegas style finale, ‘What Would Julie Andrews Do?’ sends the audience out into the night on a whoosh of feathers, fantasy and fun. Just perfect to tickle your fancy on a chilly October night.

 

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Peter H Davies

 

kings head theatre

Tickle: The Musical

King’s Head Theatre until 26th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Coral Browne: This F***Ing Lady! | ★★ | May 2019
This Island’s Mine | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | June 2019
Margot, Dame, The Most Famous Ballerina In The World | ★★★ | July 2019
Mating In Captivity | ★★★★ | July 2019
Oddball | ★★★½ | July 2019
How We Begin | ★★★★ | August 2019
World’s End | ★★★★ | August 2019
Stripped | ★★★★ | September 2019
The Elixir Of Love | ★★★★★ | September 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Happily Ever Poofter
★★★★

Above the Stag

Happily Ever Poofter

Happily Ever Poofter

Above the Stag

Reviewed – 2nd July 2019

★★★★

 

“this is a frivolous, fun fairy tale that draws attention to a serious issue in LGBTQ+ representation”

 

We had to wait until 2017 for Disney’s first ever gay character to make it on screen – namely Gaston’s sidekick LeFou in Bill Condon’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ live action remake. Cyrus Goodman, from Disney Channel’s ‘Andi Mack’, created a stir in February this year for being the first character on a Disney show to say “I’m gay” after coming out in Season Two. And we all can’t wait for Jack Whitehall’s mysterious “openly gay” character in next year’s ‘Jungle Cruise’. Despite all this, we all know Disney has a long way to go for LGBTQ+ representation, and it’s precisely this that comes under fire in Rich Watkins hilariously risqué cabaret show, now doing a run of Edinburgh previews.

This one-man-marathon sees Prince Henry leaving the land of fairy tales and princesses to enter the ‘real world’ and discover what it means to be gay. His fairy godfather shows him the way into the London gay “scene” where he meets an array of charming men (from Bashful to… erm… Sleepy) and finds comfort and community in (you guessed it) Above the Stag. His journey teaches him some crucial lessons. By finding community, he eventually learns how to be himself – even in the hostile, heteronormative landscape of fairy tale land.

Watkins, who is both writer and performer, has constructed a charming and whimsical show. A smattering of audience participation keeps the crowd engaged and in hysterics, and his witty reimagining of Disney songs is endlessly entertaining (highlights include a recontextualised version of “Someday My Prince Will Come” that you’ll never forget). Behind the shimmer curtain lies an important message however. Gay identity is often shaped by what we see – if we don’t see ourselves, how can we learn to be ourselves?

Denholm Spurr’s direction, coupled with Simone Murphy’s choreography, ensure the silliness remains throughout, and Watkins really works hard here, responding well to audience heckles and good-spirited joining in. Watkins could be bolder with his singing (there’s a fantastic voice in there desperate to get out) and could trust his audience with the jokes more, but overall this is a frivolous, fun fairy tale that draws attention to a serious issue in LGBTQ+ representation whilst nevertheless making sure everyone, Disney fan or no, is thoroughly entertained.

 

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

 

Above The Stag Theatre

Happily Ever Poofter

Above the Stag until 2nd July as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview tour

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Title Of Show | ★★★★ | February 2019
Goodbye Norma Jeane | ★★ | March 2019
Romance Romance | ★★★★ | March 2019
Queereteria TV | ★★ | April 2019
Fanny & Stella: The Shocking True Story  | ★★★★ | May 2019

 

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