Wild About You

The cast list alone for this two-night concert is enough to make audiences sit up and take notice. That, and the anticipation of wondering how this will be staged at the current home of Disney’s Frozen promises a good night in the theatre. The six performers are all well-known and respected in their careers, spanning stage and screen, both big and small. And there are some power-house singers among them.

The show opens with Olivia (Rachel Tucker) centre stage standing next to a hospital bed. Her song 'Floating and Falling' reveals to us that she is having some sort of breakdown. This transpires to be a period of amnesia, probably brought on by stress. Nurse Shae (Todrick Hall) appears to comfort her, reassure her and to help her piece together what’s happened. Over the rest of Act 1 we learn so much of Oliva’s backstory, largely involving a complex web of relationships, including one controlling husband (Eric McCormack as Michael), a lesbian lover (Tori Allen-Martin as Jessica) and a random fling in a bar (Oliver Tompsett as Thomas) resulting in a child (Jamie Muscato as Billy). The direction here is notable: the hospital bed becomes Olivia’s ‘safe space’ to which she returns with Shae – who gives us all the sass – while acting out her back story on other parts of the stage.

There are other notable directorial choices, making good use of a simple, but effective set. Each of the characters first appear behind frosted glass reflecting the foggy state of Olivia’s mind to begin with, before the memories come into sharper focus. Hall makes another appearance in Act 2 as Robin – but it feels like he is underused as he spends more time simply being present in the background (not unnoticed, it has to be said) rather than front and centre in the action.

Tucker is certainly the power-house in this production, and others match her vocal ability equally. It is notable, that against such stellar singers, McCormack can get lost in the mix and has to work harder at some of the harmony.

Act 1 closes with Olivia collapsing, leaving us to wonder how the story will unfold, particularly since we haven’t yet seen Billy, although we know he is in the background, behind the frosted glass. Act 2 gives us Carousel vibes as a now deceased Olivia begs desperately to leave purgatory (with Hall now playing an equally sassy Robin) so that she can communicate with her family. This sets of a chain of events, bringing the threads of Olivia’s story together.

I am impressed that this new musical is as well-performed as it is, given a rehearsal period of just a week and a half. The music – largely in the soft-rock, power ballad genre – is full of soul, with some belter numbers. There are moments of wondering what happened to the ending of some of the songs, but perhaps the open-ended nature of it helps paint the picture of Olivia’s confusion.

I find myself leaving the theatre having had a great evening, having been entertained by a massively talented cast and knowing I’ve seen something special. But also, with a nagging feeling that Act 2 has brought out the cynic in me, wondering if the story verges towards the saccharine end, and do the Carousel vibes work in 2024? It’s worth seeing, so that you can make up your own mind as to whether you’re wild about Wild About You!

This show was reviewed on the 25th March 2024 at Theatre Royal Drury Lane where it runs for one last performance on the 26th March 2024.  Tickets here: Wild About You Tickets - Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London – Official Box Office (lwtheatres.co.uk)

Review written by Ian Worsfold

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