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
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
Goonies – Hey you Guys
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
Rocky – Eye of the Tiger line in song
Nightmare on Elm Street – Freddy Krueger
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
Back to the Future – Eugene’s Marty McFly style outfit
Transformers – Megatron
Scooby Doo – cheerleader outfits look like Velma’s Jumper/skirt combo
Lost in Space – Kevin the Robot
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
Blood Brothers (Hector and Tough Man – brothers separated at birth)
Papa can you Hear Me – Fiddler on the Roof
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
Cabbage patch dolls
Jean Claude Van Damme
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:
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!!!