Tuesday, 25 February 2020

REVIEW: The Pirate Queen at the London Coliseum

For one night only, Tom Gribby made his producing debut and brought the magnificent The Pirate Queen to the London Coliseum to raise money for Leukaemia UK. Directed by Drew Baker, the show (book by Alan Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Richard Maltby Jr) sets the scene in 16th Century Ireland. The Pirate Queen tells the tale of feminist Grace O’Malley fighting her way to be Captain of the ship, struggling with love, loss, betrayal and being hunted down by Queen Elizabeth’s royal subjects.

With two incredible Musical Theatre stars blessing us on the stage as the two powerful women, Grace O’Malley (Come From Away’s, Rachel Tucker) and Queen Elizabeth I (Sex Education’s, Hannah Waddingham) the expectations were high. The score is stunning, Tucker’s vocals stole the show whilst she was supported by a fiercely strong cast, ensemble and the PPA, Arts Ed and Mountview choirs. As this version is more of a concert, rather than a theatrical production, the Irish dancing (choreographed by Jack Ludwig) was a welcome relief from the fighting and the ballads.

Julian Kelly directed the 11-part orchestra to an exceptional standard, deservingly taking centre stage throughout the performance. Every element of the production was of the highest quality, pulling out all the stops to create an outstanding piece of theatre. The costumes were intricately designed by Fran Levin, there was little in the way of set aside from some atmospheric projections to set the scene and location. 

At the end of the concert, Tom Gribby came out to thank everyone involved. Alan Boublil even made a brief appearance to take a bow with the cast. Surprisingly nothing was mentioned about the charity the profits are going towards, but it was heartwarming nonetheless. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: Dress Circle B51
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