Advertised as comparable to “a musical episode of How I Met Your Mother or Friends”, dramatic and operatic society, registered charitable organisation, and all-round bunch of good-eggs SEDOS bring us Next Thing You Know, the story of four New Yorkers making the leap from twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings and having a good hard look at their lives in the process.
Not exactly typical fare for a musical but having thoroughly enjoyed The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown and feeling it could be slightly similar, I had high hopes. And with good reason.
SEDOS’s introduction to Next Thing You Know is a fully kitted out bar, onstage, where you can pick up a drink or two alongside the cast. Sadly, I didn’t know it was cash only and came unprepared so had to use the bar downstairs but having done so and brought said drink back up with me, the immersive bar experience began. I was surprised to find that what had been created for our enjoyment was actually a really good bar and the sort of place I would enjoy going to on a night out. Top work there, I must say.
Just as I was settling in to enjoy a night at Sully’s, the last orders bell was rung to encourage us to our seats and let the main show commence.
Without further ado, we were thrust into the busy lives of Waverly (Laura Ellis), Luke (Chris Foxwell), Darren (Luke James Leahy) and Lisa (Bobbi Mair) and their varying degrees of existential crisis. With a major breakup, some ‘forever young’ pining, a healthy slice of ‘follow your dreams’, a little bit of growing up, and a heavy helping of heavy drinking, Next Thing You Know covered a lot of ground and in terms of scenes, it all came together very well.
Something of a shame was that in order to cover this breadth of plot and to allow the timescale for everything to gestate, build and resolve, the character development suffered a little and there were some characters (Luke in particular) who had some pretty stark character shifts without much exposition. Not entirely helped by the fact that the vocals seemed to be mixed a bit too low against the backing music – although that could just have been where I was sitting.
Counterbalancing the fast pace of the main characters’ development, credit goes out to the Ensemble cast whose roles, sitting just outside the spotlight, they made engaging and entertaining to add an extra depth to the overall show that I really enjoyed. Also, full credit to the whole cast for keeping in character during the intermission and the pre-show drinks with even an impromptu feeling singalong with Lisa, portrayed as a regular Sully’s performing singer/guitarist.
Interspersed with song and with a very cleverly designed set that allowed the bar to also be an office and a bedroom with very little changeover or delay, the production was as close to top quality as I’ve seen in a while. Mix this up with the skilled acting and comfortable immersive experience and I would confidently recommend Next Thing You Know. A very enjoyable evening’s entertainment indeed.
Review by Damien Russell
Next Thing You Know (“NTYK”) is a musical about four New Yorkers waking up from their invincible twenties and confronting adulthood in the city that never sleeps. It looks at a time in life when one day you wake up, and instead of a hangover, you have a job. Instead of a fling, you have a live-in girlfriend. And instead of naïve dreams, you have reality. Think: a musical episode of How I Met Your Mother or Friends.
Like MacLaren’s or Central Perk, there is a central location that throws the characters of NTYK together – a little dive bar on Sullivan Street. We plan to create an immersive dive bar on the Bridewell stage (similar to a Secret Cinema experience) where, before the show and during the interval, the audience can buy a drink or two and mix and mingle with the people of New York, including being part of the ‘behind the scenes’ experience of what the characters of NTYK get up to on their big night out!
WAVERLY | Laura Ellis
LISA | Bobbi Mair
DARREN | Joshua Yeardley / Luke James Leahy*
LUKE | Chris Foxwell
ENSEMBLE | Lauren Clarke, Ellie Jones, Emma J Leaver, Alex Stephenson, Sarah White, Joshua Yeardley / Luke James Leahy (when not playing Darren*)
*The role of Darren will be played by Joshua Yeardley on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night (5, 7 and 9 March), and by Luke James Leahy on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday matinée (6, 8 and 9 March).
DIRECTOR | Dan Saunders
MUSICAL DIRECTOR | Adrian Hau
PRODUCER | Natalie Harding-Moore
TECHNICAL LEAD | Olly Levett
STAGE MANAGER | Lizzie Levett
POSTER DESIGN | Zoe Dobell
SET REALISATION | Andrew Laidlaw
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER | Shiri Stern
NEXT THING YOU KNOW
Music by JOSHUA SALZMAN
Lyrics by RYAN CUNNINGHAM
Bride Lane Fleet Street
London, EC4Y 8EQ