Friday, February 04, 2011

Why producers should be fighting over Gutted: The Musical

One of Edward Moore's frankly stunning photos.

I have to admit that I'm not sure whether Gutted creators Danielle Ward (book and lyrics) and Martin White (music) actually want big shot producers to be sticking their hands in their pockets for a West End run or worldwide tour of Gutted - and if not, let's pretend this article is called 'Why Gutted Rocks'. But hey, personally nothing would please me more than to see this superlative comic musical run and run, so here are my reasons why some big impresario should be writing cheques to keep it on the stage...

The book is consistently funny

Often, such focus is placed on the songs in a comedy musical (understandably, I know) that the script can be overlooked. It's either just plain weak, or packed with obvious jokes and terrible puns that have you wishing for the band to strike up again. Not so here. The set-up is that Sorrow marries her parents' killer so that she can then murder his own family, and so make him suffer as she has done - don't worry, it's not as depressing as that makes it sound. And thanks to Ward's sharp wit and evident love of the macabre, this story (plus a love interest, Greek chorus and lesbian side-plot) is a constant joy, mixing silliness with darkness and OTT gags with throwaway winners.

The songs are instantly hummable

Anyone familiar with Martin White's work with the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, or who has seen his previous musical Psister Psycho, will know that he is one uber-talented songwriter and orchestrator - but Gutted could well be his masterpiece. I have only heard these songs twice - once during the show's run in Edinburgh, and again during the wonderful concert staging that prompted this plea for backers - but I could hum you the tunes to most of the songs right now. I won't, you wouldn't hear it, but I could. My personal favourites are the Elvis (Mud?)-inspired first dance Ballad of Rancid Mortimer, power ballad Don't Need No-One, the Victoriana music-hall of In We Should Trust and slow-jam Lost Years - but frankly, they're all instant classic in my eyes.

The cast is to die for

Yes, the way I see it, the entire cast will stay when Gutted transfers to a massive Shaftesbury Avenue theatre. Why change a thing when you have the Penny Dreadfuls as Sorrow's twisted subconscious, bickering over Thom Tuck milking his big moment? Or Michael Legge as the Vicar, adlibbing lines like "Everytime you sin, God bums your Mum and puts the footage on YouTube"? Or Doc Brown, or Margaret Cabourn-Smith? How about Sara Pascoe, JimBob or Lizzie Roper? No, exactly, you would keep them all and be overjoyed about it too. Then there's our leads. In Edinburgh, Sorrow was played by Helen George who brought an angelic innocence to the little psycho, while in the semi-staged version Isy Suttie was brilliantly bitter - both are fantastic. And stealing many scenes as not only Mr Bewlay but four members of his family, the excellent Colin Hoult is hilarious and, quite simply, irreplaceable.

It's cool as hell

Let's face it, musicals aren't always cool - they can be cheesy, quickly outdated or just a bit too jazz-hands. Gutted, on the other hand, keeps all the things that make the best musicals great (catchy songs and zippy dialogue) while adding a streak of joyous bloodlust and a hugely talented ensemble. And that's pretty darn cool.

I wrote this love-letter to Gutted for British Comedy Guide...

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