Five men in yellow on a boat

Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical Reviews – at Theatre Royal Bath & touring ★★★★

Reviews are in for the UK tour of Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical which has opened at Theatre Royal Bath.

TV favourites James Gaddas (CasualtyBad GirlsCoronation Street), Susan Penhaligon (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Emmerdale) and Robert Duncan (Drop the Dead Donkey) star, alongside Anton Stephans (finalist in The X Factor ITV) and Parisa Shahmir (MAMMA MIA! -UK Tour).

The show is based on the true story of the Cornish singing sensations, Fisherman’s Friends, and the hit 2019 film about their life. When a group of Cornish fishermen came together to sing the traditional working songs they’d sung for generations, they hoped to raise a few quid for charity. Nobody, least of all the fishermen, expected their story to end on the Pyramid stage of Glastonbury. Packed with sea shanties, Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical is a feelgood voyage about friendship, community and music.

Starring James Gaddas as Jim, Parisa Shahmir as Alwyn, Robert Duncan  as Jago, Susan Penhaligon as Maggie, Anton Stephans as Leadville, Jason Langley as Danny, Dan Buckley as Rowan, Dakota Starr as Ben, Pete Gallagher as Wiggie, Hadrian Delacey as Archie, Fia Houston-Hamilton as Lea, Hazel Monaghan as Sally, John O’Mahony as Eddy, Louisa Beadel as Morwenna, Beccy Hurst as Grace and James William-Pattison as Owen. With musicians Hazel Askew, Mel Biggs and Alfie Gidley and ensemble cast Hazel Simmons, Janet Mooney, Dominic Brewer and Martin Carroll.

The piece is directed by James Grieve and written by Amanda Whittington with choreography by Matt Cole and musical direction by James Findlay.

The UK & Ireland Tour follows a highly successful, sold-out season at Hall for Cornwall, where box office records were smashed, making it the biggest selling production in Hall for Cornwall’s 25-year history.

Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical is touring the UK & Ireland until 13 May 2023.

Average Critics Rating

The Guardian

"Familiar tale given full voice in fresh voyage"

"Director James Grieve retains just enough of the rough-hewn power of the original sea shanties to offset the razzle-dazzle of the musical setting"

"It’s a solid script with some lovely flickers of humour and cynicism, particularly concerning the tension between the hardy Cornish locals and fair-weather tourists. But it’s a story we’ve heard many times before, arguably in more suitable forms."

"The shanty songs work best when they’re barely being performed."

Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian
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The Telegraph

"An enjoyable trawl story that needs more Sturm (and Drang)"

"Provided you love the yo-ho-hoing sound of sea shanties, this touring stage incarnation of the popular 2019 film is for you"

"There are some 25 actors and musicians, and when it’s all hands on deck, it’s quite a sight to behold: the replica quayside set more bustling than St Ives at tourist season high-tide."

"For those who love the yo-ho-hoing sound of that ancient mariner music, there will be no demands for money back, as feet are stomped and manly vocal cords flexed, with almost soothing interludes from the siren-voiced Parisa Shahmir as Alwyn."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Times

"This heart-on-sleeve show is quite a catch"

"Crammed with sea shanties, this heart-on-sleeve portrait of the fishing community in Port Isaac is just the thing to help us to get through what promises to be a difficult winter."

"James Gaddas is quietly authoritative as Alwyn’s father, Jim, the group’s gruff leader, while Jason Langley exudes spivvish charm as Danny, the down-at-heel A&R man from London who realises he has stumbled upon hidden treasure."

"Susan Penhaligon — who plays the no-nonsense matriarch, Maggie — is an asset too."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Sunday Times

"I loved it, me hearties"

"Blow me down, this sea shanty yarn is a beautifully sung tonic."

"The opening sound effects of seagulls and accordion music accentuated suspicions that we were in for a dose of ooh-arr-me-hearties corn with stereotyped Captain Birdseyes grumbling about London grockles. Such fears soon evaporated thanks to the excellence of the singing. I was suffering toothache on the afternoon I caught the show in Bath and worried that a surfeit of hey-nonny-no folk music would make the pain worse. With each song the dental woes only abated. This charming show anaesthetises the outside world."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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📷 Main photo: Dan Buckley, James Gaddas, Robert Duncan, Jason Langley and Anton Stephans in Fisherman’s Friends the Musical. Photograph: Pamela Raith

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