Ride A New Musical - Liv Andrusier and Katy Ellis. Photo by Danny Kaan

Ride A New Musical – Reviews

A Reviews Round-up for RIDE- A New Musical at Southwark Playhouse Elephant theatre (July/August 2023), and this production’s previous run at Charing Cross Theatre (September 2022).

Written by Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams, and directed by Sarah Meadows, the cast at Southwark Playhouse Elephant features Liv Andrusier (Annie Londonderry), Katy Ellis (Martha) and Fallon Mondlane (Alternate Annie / Cover Martha).

The previous cast at Charing Cross Theatre featured Liv Andrusier (Annie Londonderry), Yuki Sutton (Martha), and Amy Parker (Alternate Annie / Cover Martha).

The musical is set in 1895, and Annie Londonderry has returned victorious to America, hailed as the first woman ever to cycle around the world. She’s pioneering, she’s plucky, and she’s pitching her story to the men who run the newspapers. From the infamous wager that set her journey in motion, to her freewheeling adventures with captains, cowboys, and customs officials, Annie just knows her tales will spin readers into a frenzy.  But as she approaches rough terrain, and unexpected paths throw her off balance, can Annie regain her footing, or will she confront the past she left behind? 

Ride was nominated for the Best Musical Theatre Book Writing in the 2022 Writers Guild Awards, and the title song from the show nominated for the 2020 Stiles and Drewe Best New Song Prize.

The show is designed by Amy Jane Cook, with choreography/movement by Natasha Harrison, musical direction by Sam Young, orchestrations by Macy Schmidt, lighting design by Jamie Platt, sound design by Andy Johnson, assistant direction by Olivia Munk, and DEM Productions as Producer and General Manager.

Ride is playing at the Southwark Playhouse Elephant theatre until 12 August 2023.

This article was originally posted on 1 September 2022 with a Reviews Round-up for Ride The Musical at Charing Cross Theatre in London. Article updated 25 July 2023, adding reviews from this production’s subsequent run at Southwark Playhouse Elephant.

Book tickets to RIDE – A New Musical at Southwark Playhouse Elephant in London


Ride - A New Musical reviews

The Times
★★★

"This outstanding pair have real pedal power" (Southwark Playhouse Elephant)

"With so much to get through, frankly it’s a bit frustrating watching the pair stay so firmly indoors for so long as they depict these cross-continental travels. Yes, train seats slide out from the wainscoting of Amy Jane Cook’s deluxe set, and there are smart flourishes of stagecraft, but it takes till halfway through for a bicycle to appear."

"Stick with this Ride. Andrusier gives a powerhouse performance that keeps the show moving forward even when it gazes at its navel. Her singing soars, and if it takes a long while for Annie to click out of her gear of cocksure razzle dazzle, well, that’s the idea. If she wanted to get ahead she didn’t feel she could be herself."

"Her co-star, Katy Ellis, is equally good as the primmer Martha"

"The music, propelled by guitar, keyboards and drums, is melodic and toe-tapping."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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The Evening Standard
★★

"A bouncy but muddled musical" (Southwark Playhouse Elephant)

"The show is tighter than it was at the Charing Cross Theatre last year, but it still feels lightweight"

"Andrusier has charisma and a big, strident voice beyond her diminutive frame. Ellis is conversely fluting and charming. Alas, director Sarah Meadows lets them get away with a grotesque amount of ungoverned mugging and histrionics. Through pleasantly forgettable songs and trite dialogue, writer-composers Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams seek to reclaim Annie as a feminist heroine. This premise feels as flimsy as Annie’s own unreliable backstory."

"Andrusier gives a stormingly OTT performance: schmoozing the crowd, flashing between vulnerable and abrasive, belting out numbers at the level of a yell. Ellis is her understated foil. The show feels tighter than it did at the Charing Cross Theatre last year and the songs bowl it along for a brisk 90 minutes. Still, there isn’t enough grit in the skimpy story, or conviction in the book and lyrics, to make this anything but lightweight."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Arts Desk
★★★★

"A true story of female empowerment" (Charing Cross Theatre)

"New musical about a barrier-breaking woman freewheels into the West End"

"Both women sing well, Andrusier with plenty of belt (especially on her 11 o’clock number, “Out Of Time”) and Sutton with more variety, using her sharp comic timing to get the most out of a range of comic roles."

"Do not be surprised to see a longer, bigger iteration of Ride in the future, one that might use a larger cast and not strain the two actors’ voices quite so much (I feared a little for them, I confess)."

Gary Naylor, The Arts Desk
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The Stage
★★★★

"Liv Andrusier delivers a barnstorming performance" (Charing Cross Theatre)

"Emotionally rich new musical biopic featuring two intense, entertaining performers"

"The book deftly negotiates the twists and turns of Annie’s journey from Latvian immigrant to media icon. Under the able baton of musical director Sam Young, this gutsy show has a full-bodied score that speaks to us across the decades..."

"Liv Andrusier delivers a barnstorming performance as Annie, embracing the peculiar narrative style with confidence and a killer belt. She’s an impressively complex character, whom Andrusier invests with clarity and charisma, while Yuki Sutton as Martha proves first the perfect foil and then the welcome saviour."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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What's On Stage
★★★★

"The new musical gets a full run in London" (Charing Cross Theatre)

"It's therefore a pleasure to encounter such a bracingly original, exquisitely crafted and generally delightful piece as Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams's Ride, which takes a piece of little-known history and makes it into something funny, robust and universal."

"Musically, the show veers between pop and show tunes, with Sam Young's tiny but mighty band delivering Macy Schmidt's exquisite orchestrations with real flair."

"The storytelling sags a little about half way through and it would be nice to discover even more about this unconventional heroine and her life choices and motivations."

Alun Hood, What's On Stage
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The Guardian
★★★

"Jaunty new musical takes cyclist’s feat for a spin" (Charing Cross Theatre)

"This soulful celebration of adventurer Annie Londonderry takes time to get into gear, but newcomer Liv Andrusier gives a superb performance"

"The music is strong, if slightly samey, although the meat of the story takes some time to reach."

"Whatever its shortfalls, this is a soulful musical with its biggest asset in Andrusier, who is captivating to watch throughout. A glittering new musical star has surely been launched."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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Daily Express
★★★★

"Get on your bike and go!" (Charing Cross Theatre)

"In 1894, Bostonian Annie Londonderry became the first woman to cycle around the world."

"Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams’ new musical not only chronicles her extraordinary achievement but also uncovers her deception. On a set depicting a Victorian library, it takes you by surprise at every turn."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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The Observer
★★

"Around the world in bloomers"

"At the fine new gleaming Southwark Playhouse Elephant, the transfer of Sarah Meadows’s award-winning production of Ride has plenty of oomph."

"Amy Jane Cook’s set and costumes deftly switch from library to wild landscape, from swishing gowns to bloomers. But the dialogue and music by Freya Catrin Smith and Jack Williams are unremittingly gung ho until too late in the evening; lack of nuance makes Ride a declaration rather than an achievement."

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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📷 Main photo: Ride A New Musical - Liv Andrusier and Katy Ellis. Photo by Danny Kaan

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