Reviews are in for a new musical based on the hit book and movies The Parent Trap. Called Identical, the show opened this week at the Nottingham Playhouse.
The show has impressive credentials, with theatre impresario Kenny Wax (Six The Musical) producing, Trevor Nunn (Les Miserables, Starlight Express, Cats, Sunset Boulevard) directing, and British writing team George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, (Mary Poppins, Betty Blue Eyes) having penned the music and lyrics.
Identical is actually based on the original novel The Parent Trap’ by Erich Kästner rather than the Disney movies starring Hayley Mills in 1961 and Lindsay Lohan in 1998, and has a book by Stuart Paterson.
The cast features identical twins Kyla and Nicole Fox, aged 12, from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Emme and Eden Patrick, 12 from Waltham Abbey (for performed the press night) and Sienna and Savannah Robinson, 12 from Bromley, playing the twins Lottie and Lisa; plus Emily Tierney (Glinda in ‘Wicked’, Molly in ‘Ghost’, Carrie Carter/Super Hot Lady in ‘Eugenius!’), James Darch (Brad in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’, Sky in ‘Mamma Mia!’), Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson (Fastrada, ‘Pippin’, Maisie in ‘The Boy Friend’), Louise Gold (Yente in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, Mazeppa in ‘Gypsy’), Michael Smith-Stewart (‘The Lion King’, ‘Rent’, ‘The Full Monty’).
The ensemble includes Rico Bakker (‘Hairspray’, ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’), David Bardsley (‘The Grinning Man’, ‘Billy Elliot’), Hannah Cauchi (Frenchie in ‘Cabaret’, ‘Top Hat’), Paige Fenlon (lead female role of Luisa in ‘Zorro’, ‘Pretty Woman’), Rosie Glossop (Pat in ‘Kinky Boots’, Diva 3/Shirley in ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’), Dominic Adam Griffin (Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cinderella’, ‘Evita’), Jordan Isaac (‘Bring It On’, ‘Mary Poppins’), Rutendo Mushonga (Zoonation’s ‘Message in a Bottle’, ‘The Lion King’), Ellie Nunn (Ida in ‘Honk!’, Minnie in ‘The Daughter in Law’).
Playing the other children are Winter Jarrett Glasspool, Daisy Jeffcoate, Isabelle Larrey, Saffia Layla, Parrine Long, Helena Middleton, Kirsten Muzvuru and Poppy Pawson.
Identical plays the Nottingham Playhouse until 14 August 2022, and then The Lowry in Salford from 19 August to 3 September 2022.
Tickets are on sale at the venues.
Main photo: Pamela Raith Li
"Identity-swap musical that’s ingenious to the point of genius"
"Directed by Trevor Nunn, the Nottingham Playhouse's new tale of reunited twins who change places has the makings of a must-see phenomenon"
"The singing is superb and the music serves the fairy-tale-like story well, expressive of giggling youthful exuberance in the camp, the metropolitan sophistication of a Hansel and Gretel ballet, and exploring the attendant childhood and parental angst with a light touch. Does it sound a bit samey at times? Yes. But the way it combines one girl’s music with the other’s lyrics in the finale, so that each completes and complements the other, is ingenious to the point of genius, eliciting awe at the complex mysteries of life and at the finely-wrought truthfulness of art."
"Trevor Nunn takes on The Parent Trap, with songs"
"This earnest musical, which features three sets of real twins across its cast, has a deeply moving pay-off"
"This is an implausible musical, and you may spend the overlong first half feeling underwhelmed. But the ending is deeply moving – proof of sorts that master technicians are at work."
"It takes a while to get the engine going, but once it’s at full speed, you relax knowing the best in the business have built this machine. This will surely transfer, tighten and become a firm family favourite."
"Young twins excel in Trevor Nunn’s uneven production of Erich Kästner’s post-war children’s classic"
"Designer Robert Jones provides a sequence of glamorous Mitteleuropean backdrops, accentuated by slick video design by Douglas O’Connell. But director Trevor Nunn has never been known for brevity and this family show is no exception."
"This musical has considerable charm and real potential, but the pacing could be peppier and some more memorable tunes wouldn’t go amiss. Kästner’s novel served as an allegory for post-war reconciliation and the ending is appropriately tear-jerking, although it isn’t unreasonable to suppose that years of therapy might be on the cards once the teenage hormones kick in."
"Parent Trap musical has promise, but no spark"
"... all its charm, it still looks like a show in need of a rewrite or two."
"What’s the main problem? The songs by composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe (writers of The Ugly Duckling musical, Honk!) are decent enough, even if they’re overshadowed by Robert Jones’s exceptionally stylish sets."
"Even I wept buckets at this wonderful weepy"
"With songs by Stiles and Drewe, it is a gooey offering. The only hard-nosed thing is its commercially savvy sentimentality. Out comes the onion peeler time and again, and by the end every person on stage is weeping. Quite a few in the audience succumbed too."
"Nunn drills his youthful cast well and both set and computerised backdrops are better than one expects from a touring musical."
"Tale of twins reunited is a double delight"
"Director Trevor Nunn, former RSC supremo, well-versed with Shakespeare's tragicomedies of errors involving the muddles, miseries and merriment of mistaken identities, impressively brings out both the farce and the fragility of this complicated family situation in which people who belong together have been painfully pulled apart."
"n another superb double-act, the musical maestros — composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe — put a song in your heart, a smile on your face and a tear in your eye."
"A show filled with wonders"
"This new family musical dishes up a double helping of charm. "
"The ambitious production has its sights set on the West End: it’s directed, with bravura flourish and a shamelessly heavy finger on every available emotional button, by Trevor Nunn. It’s beguiling, but so meandering and tension-free that eventually its relentless niceness begins to grate."
"Without a convincing psychological grounding, or a stronger sense of damage done and emotional lessons learnt, the story feels like so much sentimental fluff. Efforts to add depth are half-hearted and garbled: an incongruous, overblown nightmare sequence in which an operatic Lewis-Dodson appears as a fairy-tale witch; and a superfluous romantic subplot involving a kindly doctor and Johan’s housekeeper."
"Stiles’s score includes sumptuous waltzes, lachrymose ballads, and – most affectingly – touching duets for Lottie and Lisa. It’s impossible not to warm to a show this sweet-natured; but if it’s sunny, it’s also slight."
"A new musical of The Parent Trap has its own special effect"
"The casting of twins as the separated sisters adds a frisson to Trevor Nunn’s elegant production of the twice-filmed tale, with pitch-perfect music by George Stiles"
"Stuart Paterson’s book follows the novel in setting the action in Munich and Vienna of 1950. While the period look is entrancing, some lingering, last-century attitudes jar: the calculating, man-catcher portrayal of the composer’s ballerina girlfriend, in particular, strikes a sour note. George Stiles’s new music, though, is emotionally pitch-perfect, now bright, now dark, now surging joyously, coupled with witty lyrics from Anthony Drewe. Direction, as might be expected from Trevor Nunn, is elegant and performances are both sharp and warm, but the production’s greatest strength is the magic of the identical girls."