Category Archives: Arts & Theatre Reviews

Eugenius – The Musical – Review

It has been around a week and a half since I saw Eugenius at The Other Palace – huge thanks to my friend Clarissa who said I would love it and let me have her spare ticket. Spoiler – she was right and I may now be a little obsessed. I’m sad that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to see it again before the run is over but if you can get to London and get tickets before the 21st October please do. You deserve this joy in your life. This show is so much fun and definitely deserves a full West End transfer and/or a U.K. tour (include Poole Lighthouse or Bournemouth if you do the tour please).

Set in 1988 (when I was 10) this is a show for geeks (and I suspect written by geeks – Ben Adams former A1 lead singer (and yes I did own their albums) and Chris Wilkins). It’s about Superheroes and friendship and the 80s and the music is supremely catchy, and there’s a dance at the end that will see everyone getting involved. You won’t be able to resist.

If you can’t get to see the show then the soundtrack is available, including a sing along version. I may have listened to it a few times!!!

Personally I was sold, and had a grin on my face, from the opening moment where our protagonist Eugene opens up a Book Light!!

There are pop culture references galore and if you want to go in without knowing anything more don’t read my list of references spotted further below.

The cast was excellent – especially the main trio of Eugene, Janey and Feris played by Rob Houchen (who reminds me of Aaron Tveit tonally), Laura Baldwin (who smashed The Future is Bright and had a touching reunion with her vocal coach after the show) and Dan Buckley (No Pants Dance had me creasing). Their songs were flawless and my favourites in the show – my top two got reprises too.

The passion from the whole cast and crew was so apparent when Clarissa and I saw it on the opening night of the revised run (with feedback from its first run taken on board and acted on). It’s still not quite perfect but it’s pretty damn close. Personally I wasn’t too sold on the fish people and I felt the staging of the song Hollywood was a little static (Clarissa mentioned preferring the first run choreography). There were also a couple of lines that I would consider removing to make this show much more family friendly, specifically the Cabbage Patch Kid comment and pervert in the bushes line in evil. I am glad they revised Super Hot Lady’s main song – although both the original version of her song (which I heard on the soundtrack) and the casting couch reference are very much a social commentary on how female actresses and superheroes were treated in the 80s (and relevant to the Me Too movement raised in Hollywood recently).

(Side note prompted by the family friendly comment – we met the most adorable Eugenius superfan and fellow Hufflepuff, and his mum, and I got to teach him the Hufflepuff handshake). If you happen to be reading this. Hi, hope you managed to get back to see the show again.

Lessons learned from the show

• If a colleague has a wardrobe malfunction (Hector had a knob fall off) make sure to pick it up to avert any accidents. That’s what Tough Guy would do, or even Lex!

• Don’t do the worm with a backpack on.

• Nerds Like Numbers – Geeks like gadgets.

• Be Tough but be Fair (with a motto like this I think Tough man is a Hufflepuff)

• Friends will be there for you.

• Don’t shoot for the stars – aim higher!!!

If you loved We Will Rock You and Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy then I think this has similar vibes. This show deserves all the success.

Potential Spoilers – Pop Culture references. Mostly 80s based.

Film and TV mentions

Star Trek vs Star Wars – non GEEK confusion (Gasp)

Star Wars*- Yoda chat up lines and Ewok (Wickett)

Splash and its (not explicitly named) comparison to The Shape of Water

Footloose

Flashdance – She’s amazing = She’s a maniac homage

Dirty Dancing – Like the wind line in She’s Amazing

? Grease 2 – Who’s that guy song

Peter Pan – Second Star to the Left

Gremlins

Goonies – Hey you Guys

ET

The Neverending Story – mention of Atreyu in Hollywood (and btw YOU had a mega crush on him and cried when he cried when Artex downed in the swamp)

Karate Kid – wax on wax off

Big – Zoltar

Superman

Supergirl

Batman

Wonder Woman

The Flash

Flash Gordon*

Top Gun

Terminator

Rocky – Eye of the Tiger line in song

Nightmare on Elm Street – Freddy Krueger

Robocop

Indiana Jones

Beetlejuice (and stylistically Theo’s character looked like a cross between Otto and the guy from Mannequin)

Mannequin – window dresser at Macy’s

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Ghostbusters

Back to the Future – Eugene’s Marty McFly style outfit

Transformers – Megatron

Scooby Doo – cheerleader outfits look like Velma’s Jumper/skirt combo

Knight rider

Lost in Space – Kevin the Robot

Fraggles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

He Man – Skeletor – We’ll have the power

Thundercats – Snarf

Eldorado (I loved the total cheese of this show)

Harry Potter – very subtle ref with – less of the wizard stuff line – Nb: I can make most things relate to Harry Potter somehow

Musicals/Music influences

Blood Brothers (Hector and Tough Man – brothers separated at birth)

Papa can you Hear Me – Fiddler on the Roof

Gypsy

Chicago – Lex intro reminds me of Billy Flynn

Prince – 1999

Michael Jackson dance moves

Olivia Newton John/Jane Fonda dance moves

Flock of Seagulls hair

Journey

Evita

Things

Bum bags

Cabbage patch dolls

People

OJ Simpson

Jean Claude Van Damme

George Lucas

Kevin Bacon – did he get a name check?! I think so.

Stan Lee – Sun Spot, Bim Bam Boom(?), and Mephisto (I was not familiar with any of these (& Marvel in general)

*Guest vocal appearances by:

Brian Blessed

Mark Hamil

Warwick Davis (sings Hector’s part on the soundtrack)

Finally, I wasn’t sure I spotted any John Hughes film refs but … is the Eugenius semi-arm punch choreography an end of Breakfast Club Bender punch or a Grease Summer Night’s Travolta ear slide punch??

If the writers read this I’d love to know if I’m right on any of the less explicit references and if there are any I missed.

Ps. I totally ship EuJaney!!!

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A response to The Urban Astronaut by @HighlySprung #bythesea16

We are choking off

Our air supply

Our freedom of…

Ripping up

Ripping out

Laying waste to even

The earth we walk on

Isolated from


Ourselves

Each other 


Can isolated effort be enough

If we each plant a seed


Tend to it

Protect it

From invasion 


Show others its importance 

To our health and happiness 

Dance to its beat 

And our own inner tune

Ignore government 

Telling us we’re British 

Not European

Take that giant leap


And shout

We’re humankind 

Kind humans 

Listening to

Living with 

Caring for

Each other


Our planet 


Urban astronauts 

Reportage by the Sea

Tomorrow, Saturday the 8th of October sees the return of Bournemouth Arts by the Sea. This week long festival has over 60 arts events suitable for a range of ages. On Saturday and Sunday Bournemouth Gardens will be full of colourful performances, most of which will be free to access. 

With a group of budding journalists I have attended two day-long master classes learning about writing reviews (including using creative formats), interviewing, pitching ideas, and what editors want and don’t want. Huge thanks to our speakers Michelle Madsen, Daisy Bowie-Sell and Mark Fisher, and of course to Matt West for organising the days and to Medi Bernard and the team at Bournemouth Central Library for the brilliant facilities and hospitality. 


Now comes the scary bit. I’m now part of the Reportage Team for the festival and I have a Press Pass!!!


As well as wondering round the gardens during the opening weekend here are a few of the events I’m planning to attend and review. 

Saturday, as the sun sets, Walk the Plank will be blazing a trail with the Sea of Freaks Torchlit Procession followed by Inferno, ‘a fireball spectacular’. 

One of the first films I remember seeing at the cinema is The Little Mermaid. On Monday night Sixty Million Postcards are having a ‘Sing and Shoutalong’ screening. Hopefully, unlike Arial, the audience will be in fine voice. 

Tuesday is documentary night at Shelley Theatre following backup singers who live ’20 Feet From Stardom’. 

The final event I can attend is on Friday night at Pavillion Dance. Games with the Water Horse by Jon Adams. This is a performance installation piece which will explore ‘consciousness, life story, art forms, and neuro-diverse thinking’. I’m really intrigued about this not really having attended similar events before. 

For the full festival line up check out the schedule on their website here

And follow the events write ups by the Reportage team here

What events are you most looking forward to? 

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