Nativity! – Festival Theatre

Festive, colorful, and fun, ‘Nativity!’ is sure to get anyone into the Christmas spirit. With its sparkling stage and cast full of actors that shine even brighter, this musical comedy brought a smile to every face in the audience.

From start to finish, this musical production consistently delivered punchlines that were well received. The way that Mr Poppy (Simon Lipkin) and Mr Maddens (Scott Garnham) bounce off each other in the first act was particularly funny. In the second act, many of the scenes in Hollywood were also hilarious, despite occasionally going a little overboard on the pop culture references.

The production also makes excellent use of the stage to add to the moods of every scene. The scene in the second act when Mr Poppy and the entire group of St Bernadette’s children climb out of a box that looks much too small to hold them all was brilliantly executed – by the time the last child had made it out of the box, the whole audience was laughing.

The visuals in this show are simply delightful. Shrouding the stage in smoke during the scenes in the first act that feature Jennifer (Ashleigh Gray) in an imagined version of Hollywood really helps to make the idea of stardom feel like a faraway dream. The blue lighting that’s used in the numbers when Mr Maddens and Jennifer are singing about each other helps to bring across the feelings between them. Having the stage decorated with so many bright, cheerful Christmas-themed props also creates a lovely backdrop for the scenes to be set against. When the mood is bright and cheerful, the decorations highlight this, and when it is more serious, the props remind us that there is supposed to be Christmas cheer abound. This helps to give the sadder moments more impact.

‘Nativity!’ has an incredible costumes department that deserves a shout-out. Every character’s costumes helped to convey details about them and distinguish them even more clearly from one another. The outfits also cleverly help to set scenes, especially the ones worn during the musical sequence at the very end of the show.

Every actor involved was highly skilled and full of charm. The dialogue was well written and felt natural – and the chemistry between the actors came across brilliantly. The children delivered wonderful performances that transitioned between funny, touching, and simply heartwarming. I suspect that I was not the only one in the audience that was left feeling like a proud parent after watching the St Bernadette’s nativity performance at the end of the second act.

One area the show struggled in was pacing. The whole thing felt a little rushed, with barely a second’s time between the end of one scene and the start of the next. In the second act, this improved somewhat, but was still noticeable. It would have helped if the audience had a little more room to breathe, as this would allow us to appreciate the highly polished performances more. Aside from this, I have nothing but praise for the show.


PHOTOS: Capital Theatres

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Isa Reneman

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