Reviews are coming in for brand new British musical The Little Big Things @sohoplace theatre in London
There’s huge excitement for this new musical, penned by Nick Butcher (music and lyrics), Tom Ling (lyrics), and Joe White (book), and based on the inspirational Sunday Times best-selling memoir by Henry Fraser.
A knock-out cast includes Ed Larkin (Doctors, Love and Information) as adult Henry, Jonny Amies (Grantchester, From Here to Eternity) as the boy Henry, Linzi Hateley (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Mamma Mia! ) as Fran, and Alasdair Harvey (Come From Away, We Will Rock You) as Andrew, alongside Jordan Benjamin (Dom), Rebecca Bowden (Surgeon), Jamie Chatterton (Tom), Tom Oliver (Marco), Malinda Parris (Dr Graham), Cleve September (Will) and Amy Trigg (Agnes) with Stephen John Davis, Elena Pitsiaeli, George Salmon, Amy West and Joseph Wolff.
The Little Big Things is the life-affirming true story of Henry Fraser, an avid sportsman and academy player with a premiership Rugby club whose life changed forever in 2009 when he had a swimming accident and was paralysed from the shoulders down. Henry is now an accomplished mouth artist, motivational speaker and author, with his memoir The Little Big Things proving a best-seller.
The show is directed by Luke Sheppard (& Juliet, My Son’s a Queer), with Set Design by Colin Richmond, Choreography by Mark Smith, Costume Design by Fay Fullerton, Video Design by Luke Halls, Lighting Design by Howard Hudson, Sound Design by Paul Gatehouse, Musical Supervisor Matthew Brind, Musical Director Laura Bangay, Dramaturg/Associate Director Nickie Miles-Wildin, and Casting Director Jill Green CDG.
Andrew Lloyd Webber recently took to X to hail the show “a total triumph”. But what do they critics think? Check out reviews from the Evening Standard, The Times and more, with further reviews to be added.
The Little Big Things is playing at @sohoplace until 25 November 2023.
The Little Big Things reviews
"One of the most uplifting, heart-swelling shows in ages"
"Based on the bestselling memoir of Henry Fraser this is exuberant, inclusive and raucous"
"This exuberant, inclusive musical... Though its raucous good humour sometimes dissolves into sentiment, it’s one of the most uplifting, heart-swelling shows I’ve seen in ages. No, I’m not crying: you’re crying."
"The poppy score and cheerfully sweary script are built around a dialogue between post-accident Henry (Ed Larkin, who uses a wheelchair), and the able-bodied younger self (Jonny Amies) he needs to forgive and then let go."
"The creators’ experience in crafting three-minute hits and their relative ignorance of musical theatre convention prove liberating."
"At the end of opening night the audience were on their feet long before Henry himself came on stage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye…"
"Beautifully big-hearted pop musical based on Henry Fraser’s inspirational memoir"
"Both Henrys give performances mighty enough to tear your soul. Amies has a voice so ripe, it makes any song he sings sound effortless. Together they are two halves of one whole – much of the musical’s humour comes from the moments when they jointly chorus about their teenage crush or cringe at the other’s behaviour. The supporting cast is perfectly pitched too."
"The punch of this heart-soaring production is that it clings onto the light within the darkness – and there's giggles aplenty. Amy Trigg, who is perhaps the hidden gem within this wildly talented company, has one cracking one-liner after another as wheelchair-using physiotherapist Agnes."
"It’s not flawless, mind you. The poppy songs written by Nick Butcher and Tom Ling are jolly enough when performed in the theatre, but I couldn’t hum a single one back to you now."
"Conceivably it might not be fully ready, but it feels genuinely groundbreaking to see this show on a West End stage."
"Based on Henry Fraser’s best-selling memoir, this is a true story, transformed by Nick Butcher (music and lyrics), Tom Ling (lyrics) and Joe White (book), into an uplifting musical, flecked with droll humour and tart honesty."
"Candour is one of the musical’s strongest suits... Where the show follows that lead and focuses on detail, it really hits home. It undercuts itself whenever it wanders into cheesiness or generic upbeat pop anthems, and some key moments and characters are underwritten. But there is comedy too"
"... at the end, as the two soar together above the stage, the show gathers its threads to become a blazing statement of hope."
"There'll be tears "
"Dual Henrys, on stage together for most of the show, is one of several directorial flourishes by Luke Sheppard, as walking Henry acts out disabled Henry's inner thoughts and frustrations — and the emotional scene where they 'fly' (wheelchair and all) above the stage is a showstopper."
"Much of this is told in hummable songs that range from rock and gospel to teen pop. And Mark Smith's choreography and the band under Laura Bangay give the show a propulsive energy."
"You would have to have a heart of stone not to find Henry's story deeply moving. Bring tissues."
"A remarkable tale of resilience"
"A new musical built around the true story of a promising young rugby player paralysed in a teenage accident is movingly full of the joy of being alive"
"Theatreland’s newest venue, @sohoplace, finding its feet after only four shows to date, is put blissfully through its paces in this spanking new musical, one of very few in living memory to have its first production in the West End."
"... a lavish celebration of pragmatism with a curiously intimate relationship at its heart: the fraught bromance between the present-day Fraser, who uses a wheelchair, and his younger, non-disabled self."
"... his instant determination and deep reserves of humour and courage – means that we never truly doubt his ability to accept his injuries and prevail over them. This gives the show an infectious energy of hope and purpose, but at the expense of jeopardy and enduring discomfort."
"Big-hearted musical is a true-story tearjerker"
"This adaptation of a memoir by a 17-year-old aspiring rugby pro paralysed by a holiday accident has catchy songs, strong performances and schmaltz"
"Nick Butcher’s music and lyrics (by Butcher and Tom Ling) are strong and catchy, incorporating pop, jazz and gospel alongside big musical ballads. Humour brings kooky touches"
"The performances are strong too, and Parris is a particular highlight along with Amy Trigg’s plain-speaking physiotherapist (“shit happens,” she sings)."
"For all its heart, the story of transformation – Henry becomes an artist after teaching himself with utensils held in his mouth – sometimes feels too bright-eyed, with the schmaltz in Joe White’s book lathered so thickly that it flattens things."
"Characters bring on some scenery and it is very inventive, but set oddly against big West End stagecraft"
"It is a lovable tearjerker nonetheless with a disarming sweetness and bearing all the signs of being an immense crowd-pleaser."
"A story this good deserves much better music"
"There's much to admire in this musical @Soho Place, based on rugby star Henry Fraser's memoir"
"While Fraser’s book gets right to the crux of his recovery and all the pain this entails, White’s script is oddly conflict-averse and paints the situation in broad brushstrokes, often describing what’s happened instead of dramatising it."
"We get two Henrys... Both give sincere performances. However, the show works best when it swaps tear-jerking for grounded humour – like Henry enlisting his brother’s help with an awkward situation: “I think I’m sitting on my balls.” "
"Amy Trigg is dynamite as no-nonsense physio Agnes (“S—t happens” is her brisk counsel), and the wheelchair-using Trigg herself is a fierce rebuttal to any limitations wrongly placed on disabled people – much more so than the show’s constant “inspirational” slogans. Linzi Hateley is an affectingly shell-shocked mum, and Malinda Parris provides the vocal highlight as Doctor Graham."
"Chorus of approval is not enough to make this show fly"
"Nothing would please me more than to say that his Lordship is right, and that the West End has a runaway hit. But I’m not convinced."
"... it was just as hard to ignore the nagging impression that the project is several rewrites away from the finished article. The rock score by the debutant composer Nick Butcher aspires to be anthemic, but drifts into U2-lite territory."
"The good news is that there are some strong performances, notably from Amy Trigg as Fraser’s wheelchair-bound therapist... , a mischievous, inspirational figure who takes almost sadistic pleasure in prodding him towards the next goal."
"The Little Big Things gives a voice to people who have spent too much time in the shadows. It’s just a pity that this story doesn’t come fully alive."
"Breaks new ground"
"New musical based on Henry Fraser’s bestselling memoir is groundbreaking and huge-hearted, but needs more finesse"
"That a show without any obvious box-office-banker names attached should debut in the West End feels close to miraculous in itself. Luke Sheppard’s production is boundary-busting, too"
"But while the piece deals in powerful themes – courage, resilience, the strength and joy that spring from love and creativity – it paints in primary colours. White’s book has a by-numbers feel, and the poppy music is melodiously middle of the road, a less memorable close cousin of Dear Evan Hansen. It’s carried by the story’s emotional heft, and by winning performances."
"Best of all is Amy Trigg, captivatingly charismatic as Henry’s irreverent, sensitive and wise physiotherapist. If the show doesn’t feel completely achieved, it breaks new ground and takes its audience on an exceptional journey. Perhaps, in some ways, that matters more."
"New musical’s approach to disability is cloying, simplistic and a little old-fashioned"
"Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ringing endorsement of this new British musical proves to be an omen rather than an asset"
"If you’re allergic to musical theatre earnestness, new British musical The Little Big Things will have you reaching for the epi pen. It comes with a ringing endorsement from Andrew Lloyd Webber (“a total triumph...it will be an international smash”) that its best, most full-throated moments live up to. But the seriousness with which its creators treat this true story of disability and determination means that the bits in between have the cloying, relentless uplifting quality of a school assembly or a church youth service."
"... The Little Big Things’ approach to disability looks simplistic and a little old-fashioned – a hymn to willpower and determination with barely a discordant note."