Rachael Wass

Nativity! The Musical at Liverpool Empire – A review

Debbie Isitt’s multi-coloured artistry has redefined nativity with its rainbow of talent that hung over the city of Liverpool like a blessed beacon. Five stars.

That’s it. Halloween is over, which means it’s officially Christmas…

Thus, bursting with energy comes Isitt’s stage production of her 2009 cinematic hit, Natvity! With the sparkliest set to have ever graced a stage, the newly-found musical transports the audience directly into the contents of a Christmas Cracker with golden glitter, jokes and all. For those who have had the misfortune of never seeing the first film of the Nativity trilogy, the festive story follows teacher Mr Maddens (played by Scott Garnham) and big kid teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Simon Lipkin) as they direct the Christmas nativity play for the primary school children of St Bernadette’s, Coventry. The original screenplay is pure feelgood Christmas spirit, and the on-stage play even more so. With the zany unpredictability of the children, Nativity! The Musical has the quaint charm of a local school play but the finesse of a Hollywood-worthy performance and is a must see for any festive fans this November!

The 26 young actors playing the stars of the show included a small number of Liverpool’s own talented youngsters for show week at the Empire Theatre, bringing the production even closer to home. It was evident that every single actor performed with their whole heart and encouraged the audience to have the time of their life alongside those on stage. Not to mention that for a cast that had been trapped in a backstage lift for hours before the premiering show of the week, it was impressive to see the bundles of vivacity and charisma that each cast member brought to the show.

Lipkin (as Mr Poppy) fuelled the show with improvised witty banter and natural comic energy, whilst Garnham perfectly mirrored Martin Freeman’s role of sensibility in the original 2009 casting. Together, the pair led the show with utter vibrancy, letting the spectacular children follow with vigour. Also making a small appearance was Emmerdale’s Adam Thomas as the Hollywood producer, and reeled in (vocally present) fans whilst performing a modest role and leaving the spotlight to be shining on the children.

The stage adaptation is slightly altered from the original film to allow a more practical approach to the theatre and was modernised only in ways that enhanced the standard of humour.  Extra-added one-liners were aimed at both adults and children, meaning that everyone in the audience is kept engaged throughout.

If glitter, a laugh-out-loud script and highly-concentrated Christmas spirit isn’t enough to persuade you to a trip to the theatre to watch Nativity, then surely Pepper the (absolutely gorgeous) dog, playing Cracker, must do.

Remaining tickets to see Nativity! The Musical can be found and bought on the link below:


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