Review by Rosie Holmes
‘Be Prepared’ is the motto for the worldwide Scouts movement, and in brand new show Scouts! The Musical, be prepared to not only watch the show but become part of it too. Gigglemug bring their trademark brand of silliness and joy to their new production, currently residing at The Other Palace’s Studio space. Having previously been selected for BEAM Festival, the UK’s leading industry showcase for new musicals, Scouts! The Musical was top of my list of shows to see this summer.
In the show, Scouts from around the world gather to take part in the annual Scout Game,s but when a vengeful previous competitor threatens to sabotage the games it is up to Scouts Ayesha and Joe to team up and use their skills to save the day. It’s a wholesome story not only about the Scouts movement but also overarching themes of friendship and kindness. Writers Sam Cochrane and David Fallon worked in partnership with the Scout Association, and this shines through in the attention to detail throughout the show.
Scouts! The Musical is an easy, entertaining and enjoyable watch for all, led by a fantastic cast of actor-musicians who impressed with their multiple talents. Rob Gathercole as Linus Lionheart, amongst other character, had incredible energy and the right amount of goofiness, but what was truly impressive was the live music he played throughout, at one point playing the trumpet and keyboard simultaneously! Similarly, Katie Pritchard, who has starred in previous Gigglemug production Runesical, wowed with wonderful comic timing and again, an incredible talent for music, playing drums, as well as a simultaneous kazoo / recorder symphony.
Also in the cast were Emily Kitchingham and Sydney Spencer as ‘Faye Kename’ and Ayesha respectively. Both were able to showcase their gorgeous voices that could easily feel a bigger space than the small studio, as well as their talent for comedy. Kemi Clarke and Joel Nash as Dylan and Joe were full of incredible energy, again impressing with not only their acting and singing, but with the instruments they played throughout the show.
While the cast were certainly exceptiona,l so too is the writing. Co-written by Gigglemug Theatre’s Sam Cochrane and former Scout David Fallon, the show is wonderfully witty, a little bit silly, and very clever indeed. The show achieves something many shows often struggle to do in that it truly appeals to all ages. Throughout I heard giggles from children in attendance, but also plenty from the mostly adult audience, and Sam Cochrane proves again what an accomplished and simply funny writer he really is. While the show is family-friendly, there were no cheap jokes here, just tonnes of fun and wit.
The writing is consistent through the songs and the book, featuring everything you could possibly want from a light-hearted musical, plenty of catchy earworms as well as ballads that allowed the cast to showcase their vocals. Emily Kitchingham gets a jazzy number in ‘Show You The Ropes’ that I am still singing today, but an absolute highlight for myself was the ‘Bad Badge’ song. A complete masterpiece in musical comedy, it featured jokes that were incredibly relevant, was silly but witty and a hit amongst the audience thanks to Katie Pritchard and Rob Gathercole’s absolute knack for comedy and their brilliant goofiness.
The Other Palace’s Studio space, is small, but the space was used effectively. Large banners with Scouting slogans adorned the walls and the cast managed the space extremely well. Props were used incredibly creatively, a small orange flag and some sticks were used to create a boat, a tent and a fire. The creativity shown by the production team only makes me more excited at the potential of the show having a further life in a bigger space. I can almost imagine a Mincemeat-esque jazzy finale one day in the future. Most impressive was the cast’s management of the audience participation in the show, something that can often incite fear in both cast members and audience alike. Three audience members were chosen to partake in the Scout Games and this only added to the fun of the show, with no awkwardness at all and allowing the cast to really show off their funny bones with added improvisation.
Scouts! The musical is a feel-good new musical, utterly joyous and incredibly witty this is a show that will leave a smile on every audience member’s face whether a scout or not. Themes of friendship and kindness run throughout ensuring its truly in the spirit of the Scouts, I hope this short run at the Other Palace’s Studio is not the last we see of this gorgeous new musical.
Scouts! The Musical is currently playing at The Other Palace Studio until 9th July 2023, tickets can be purchased here- Scouts! The Musical - The Other Palace Theatre
Photos by Benkin photography