Review: The Secret Society of Leading Ladies, Barn Theatre (online)

The Barn Theatre really has been one of the saviours of the past year, with their many digital productions, from the likes of What A Carve Up!, Peter Pan, and Marry Me A Little keeping us all entertained throughout the pandemic. And its latest production, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies, might just be its most creative yet. 

Reminiscent of Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies hands control over to the viewers. Five leading ladies are invited to a secret society, a mysterious performance space. The twist is that the audience get to choose who’s going to perform. With 14 performers and a total of 164 possible combinations, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies gives viewers the opportunity to witness some spectacular performances from some of musical theatre’s finest. 

Created by the Barn Theatre’s Ryan Carter, the production shines a light on the archetypes of female musical characters, from dreamers and divas to princesses and villains. This is an innovative and original concept which puts some incredibly talented women front and centre. The line-up includes Jocasta Almgill, Lauren Byrne, Kayla Carter, Aoife Clesham, Allie Daniel, Abbi Hodgson, Aisha Jawando, Claudia Kariuki, Natalie Kassanga, Emma Kingston, Kayleigh McKnight, Ellie Mitchell, Jarneia Richard-Noel, and Kelly Sweeney. There’s such a wealth of talent on show that it’s impossible to choose a favourite, with everyone impressing, but particular highlights include Kayla Carter’s beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Aisha Jawando’s rendition of The Last Midnight and Jarneia Richard-Noel’s performance of I Didn’t Plan It. At the end of the show viewers are treated to an encore featuring all 14 performers, an incredible finale that really showcases their fantastic vocals. The show looks incredible, with thanks to Videographer Jamie Scott-Smith and Editor Ben Evans, while Musical Consultant Leo Munby and Sound Engineer Harry Smith engineer that the production sounds just as good. 

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is sure to appeal to newcomers and die-hard musical theatre fans alike, with songs from shows including The Wizard of Oz, Bonnie and Clyde, Fame, Into the Woods, Kinky Boots, Mean Girls and Waitress. It’s an incredibly clever show and some great songs on offer. The storyline in between the songs is a little light but nonetheless it’s interesting to watch the various characters interacting, no matter which options you choose. If anything, with a run time of 25 minutes, the show isn’t long enough and definitely leaves you wanting more. Thankfully there’s an option to pay for access to multiple combinations to make the most out of this original production. 

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a fresh and imaginative production with something for everyone, a brilliant set list and incredible vocals from some hugely talented performers. The show provides us with a much-needed dose of musical theatre to tide us over until theatres can open once again. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is streaming online until 7 March.

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