Girl power is out in full force in Stratford this week as the UK tour of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World pitches up in London for a limited time. Based on the book of the same name by Kate Pankhurst, this adaptation for the stage takes us on a whistle-stop tour through some trailblazers through history.
The basic premise of the show sees a young girl called Jade break away from her school trip to the local museum where she takes a peek at the Gallery of Greatness - an exhibit where iconic women from across history come to life to give their own words of wisdom and inspire the next generation. Over the course of a relentlessly speedy 90 minutes, Jade encounters legendary figures including Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Jane Austen and Marie Curie.
The central role of Jade is played by Kudzai Mangombe, remaining on the stage throughout as she navigates the many weird and wonderful characters she meets, she effortlessly channels the innocence of youth, perfectly encapsulating the struggle to find your own path. Kudzai gives a truly joyous and exciting performance in what is an instantly loveable character.
The fantastically great women Jade meets along the way are played by Jade Kennedy, Renée Lamb, Christina Modestou and Kirstie Skivington who each play a variety of characters. Getting individual moments to shine and showing enormous versatility in their roles (Special mention to Kirstie transforming from Emmeline Pankhurst to Agent Fifi to Jade's teacher with the subtle change of an accent) and becoming the ultimate girl group when they perform together.
The music is what really makes Fantastically Great Women... stand out from the crowd. With music and lyrics from Chris Bush, Jennifer Decilveo and Miranda Cooper, the latter of whom is responsible of some of the greatest pop songs of the Century (including Girls Alouds incredible catalogue), it is no surprise that this show is full of instantly familiar earworms. Highlights include the rousing call to arms of 'Deeds Not Words', the stunning 'World Of Colour' and Renee Lamb's absolute scene-stealing 'Rosa's Lullaby'.
With the joyous finale 'Fantastically Great', it is hard not to draw comparisons to Six - another show about female empowerment set to a contemporary score. If that show is part of the inspiration for this one, it takes some of the elements from that other show and adds its own twist to it, giving Fantastically Great Women its own identity.
Boasting genius direction from Amy Hodge, Fantastically Great Women delights with a ridiculously fun set design from Joanna Scotcher with a boxed up museum exhibit literally bursting to life with clever reveals. Equally diverse is the lighting design from Zoe Spurr which manages to constantly add new tricks to its deceptively simple appearances throughout the show. Fabulous choreography from Dannielle Lecointe couples the incredible songbook perfectly in a production where all the boxes are ticked.
While it has its sights set at a younger audience, there is plenty for people of all ages to enjoy in Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World. Kids and big kids alike will fall in love with the inspirational story with a positive and empowering message. Fantastic songs, Great staging and a cast full of Fantastically Great Women, this show might not change the world but it will certainly give you a Fantastically Great time.
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World plays at Theatre Royal Stratford East until July 17th. Tickets from http://stratfordeast.com/
Photos by Pamela Raith