Daddy Cool is one of the worst musicals that either West End Whinger has ever seen.
Let us put that into context for you: Phil has seen Carrie The Musical, Leonardo and Jean Seberg. We had been warned that it was a bit “ragged round the edges” but if that’s the case this show is a theatrical myriagon.
The concept of this “Boney M musical” revolves around two rival gangs. Does that sound a tad familiar as an idea for a musical? And wasn’t that already done brilliantly? No sorry, Daddy Cool shouldn’t be uttered in the same breath as West Side Story. In fact it shouldn’t breathe at all: someone should put a plastic bag over the head of this show and tie the string very tightly.
By the end of Act 1 the Whingers had rummaged through their bags and located a couple of Waitrose bags. Only the interval prevented the Shaftesbury Theatre from having a very unpleasant piece of publicity on its hands.
If this is indeed “The Boney M musical” how come we had never heard of half the songs? It claims to be “based on the songs of Boney M.” but adds in small print “and Frank Farian Productions” which means huge swathes of the show pass without infectious Boney M songs and are instead padded with “hits” from the likes of Milli Vanilli, No Mercy and La Bouche.
Still, the overture medley of Boney M hits was promising enough. But when the cloth rose to reveal a Caribbean island represented by a set that would put the worst provincial panto to shame our hearts sank.
Two scenes in, WEW were thrilled when the show ground to a halt. A technical hitch stopped the show, turning WEW giddy with excitement. Did this herald the introduction of some particularly innovative hi-tech hydraulic revolving set? No, after 10 minutes the curtain on a shoddy little room with a sofa that could have been pushed on by a stage hand.
By now Andrew’s giggles were proving infectious. The row behind WEW caught the giggle bug. Little did we all know it was to get worse. When the rival gangs were urged: “if you want to fight, why not do it through music?” Andrew expelled an involuntary cackle.
Then came a nightclub scene which defied belief. Trying to create a club atmosphere on stage never works – didn’t they learn anything from the Pet Shop Boy’s dismal musical Closer To Heaven? Attempting “cool” on the West End stage is a mistake. It’s dated before it even gets in front of an audience. Phil was so bored that he passed the time counting the number of performers on the stage (25) . Twice.
In a nutshell:
- The choreography was appalling (clothes rails, anyone?).
- The singing was appalling (we couldn’t tell who was singing or make out the words).
- The orchestrations were appalling.
- The dialogue was appalling.
- The sound balance was appalling.
- The direction was appalling – there were so many pauses in the dialogue, that sometimes it felt as though we had woken up in a Pinter play.
- The acting was appalling. Michelle Collins (whose diction was appalling) strutted round the stage with an understandable look of abject misery. Her “acting” was expressed by two poses: standing with hands on hips or standing with hands not on hips. In a rare moment of compassion, WEW will protect the identities of other performers.
Goodness knows what input creative associate Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice) had to this show.
By the interval Andrew was in a state of near hysteria and almost had to be carried from the theatre. By the same token he would have had to have been carried back in to make him sit through any more of Daddy Cool. Regular readers of WEW may be disappointed to know they just couldn’t return for more of this torture. Life’s too short.
WEW accepts that Daddy Cool is not meant to be high art, but frankly there’s no excuse. Daddy Cool makes Mamma Mia look like Chekhov.
If you notice a new generosity of spirit in future WEW posts (don’t worry fans – it will pass) you can blame Daddy Cool which has dropped the bar so low you couldn’t squeeze your ticket stub underneath it. We went with zero expectations and they were cruelly dashed. Don’t go. Life really is too short.