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SuperYou The Musical in Concert at the Lyric Theatre

The narrative is too predictable in SuperYou The Musical, even if its overarching objective in terms of highlighting female empowerment is successfully achieved. In concert format, a voiceover provides some details along the way about what stage action the creative team envisages would happen – if you’ve ever used the audio description function on the telly, it’s essentially along those lines. That said, there’s some choreography to enjoy, mostly from MiRoar (Will Bozier), the apparent antagonist of the story, who haunts Young Katie (Aaliyah Monk) at various points, but in the same way – a recurring nightmare, if you will.

Sharon Ballard and Joni Ayton-Kent - SuperYou In Concert - Photo Credit Matt Marlin and Simona Sermont for Shooting Theatre.
Sharon Ballard and Joni Ayton-Kent – SuperYou In Concert – Photo Credit Matt Marlin and Simona Sermont for Shooting Theatre.

Mostly, though, this was a stand-and-deliver evening, complete with music stands and studious attention to libretti. Still images projected onto a large screen provided further context. Some of the character names afforded to superheroines are bizarre, such as Seven (Joni Ayton-Kent), very much one person, or even eye-rolling, such as Ima-Mazing (Jenny O’Leary). A work still in development, some of the narrative strands end too neatly, and are resolved too suddenly, even without the help of the superheroines.

If there’s a Young Katie, it naturally follows there’s an adult version. Katie (Lucie Jones) finds herself with competing priorities, thanks to a looming deadline for a prestigious comic competition, a needy boyfriend in Jay (Luke Brady, who sings brilliantly) and a Mom (Maddy Brennan, in a woefully underwritten part that gives her just one spoken line) wrestling inner demons. There’s nothing new in seeing someone juggling things around, but that is precisely what makes Katie’s story so relatable – most people at some point will have multiple things going on in their lives all at once, with finite resources and lack of time proving to be challenging, to say the least.

The show’s strongest point, as it stands, is in the breadth of the musical numbers, which vary from punk rock to yodelling. The takeaway message is that sometimes people can be their own worst critics. Katie is introduced to comic book creativity by her older brother Matty (Jonty Peach): Matty is another underwritten character, the show dispensing with his services too early. His overactive imagination, which rubs off on Katie, stems at least partly from an abusive father, and the childhood desire for a superhero to provide appropriate protection. Then there are school bullies – mean girls, if you will – who call Katie all sorts of names, ostensibly because of her lower socio-economic background.

A good portrayal of a superhero/superheroine in this show is dependent on whether there is more than a passing resemblance to the person the comic book character is based on. A progressive piece of theatre, it holds appeal for those who have felt they are on the sidelines of society, or otherwise unloved and disrespected even when they have tried to do the right thing. At this point, it still needs work – it’s too cruel to say it comes across as something put together by artificial intelligence (AI), but as I started by saying, it’s too predictable, and could do with a surprising or unusual plot twist or two along the way.

By Chris Omaweng

SuperYou Musical, starring Lucie Jones, is an uplifting musical, written and composed by Lourds Lane, that centers around the transformative journey of a comic book artist who discovers self-love and her own voice as her superheroine creations spring to life. With thousands of fans on social media filming themselves singing SuperYou Musical songs from around the world, the score is a dynamic rock soundtrack that seamlessly incorporates a wide range of musical styles, including pop, hip hop, swing, blues, gospel, country, and soulful power ballads. By delving into themes of discovering inner strength, while fostering acceptance, inclusivity, and celebrating kindness, both towards others and, crucially, oneself, SuperYou is conveyed through poignant dialogue and modern, instantly memorable music, making it a tale that feels particularly relevant and timely in today’s world.

15 NOVEMBER AT 7.30pm
Book/Music/Lyrics by Lourds Lane
Direction and Choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter
Music Direction by Wendy Bobbitt Cavett
Arrangements and Orchestrations: Lourds Lane and Wendy Bobbitt Cavett
Projection Design by Caite Hevner
Lighting by Charlie Morgan Jones
Sound Design by Justin Teasdale
Set Concept by Anna Louizos
Costume Consultation by Cynthia Nordstrom
Produced by Melissa M. Jones/ All Awesome

Wednesday 15 November
Running Time: 2hrs 20mins including one interval
Lyric Theatre
Age recommendation 7+

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