From page to stage – and everything in between

Review: Is He Musical? (online)

Jude Taylor’s Is He Musical? was originally scheduled to be performed at London’s VAULT Festival until it was sadly cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thankfully this new musical has been given a new lease of life to coincide with LGBTQ+ History Month with a digital production performed live from the University of Wolverhampton before it transfers to Leicester’s Curve Theatre and The Other Palace in London.

Is He Musical? is a delightful new musical comedy inspired by the true stories of the queer friends who loved, lived and partied across 1930s London. When Laurence (Barry O’Reilly) moves to London he meets Wilfred (Teddy Hinde) who decides to mentor him and induct him into their world. The pair become good friends and as 1933 draws to a close they enjoy some indulgent evenings in the capital, experiencing some ups and downs along the way.

Matt Powell directs this charming musical which is a warm tale of friendship between the two. 80 minutes pass by in the blink of an eye, and a collection of impressive songs breaking up the action nicely. Jude Taylor’s beautiful score is a mix of lively tunes in-keeping with the era and some touching ballads accompanied by Musical Director Francesca Fenech on piano and Adastra P Fletcher-Hall and Katheryn Monteiro on strings. A particular favourite is The Boy I Love…  while Upstairs at the Trocadero is an infectious number that stays with you long after the show has finished.

Along with the music, the highlight of the show has to be the performances from stars Barry O’Reilly and Teddy Hinde. The pair have a wonderful chemistry and they’re both a joy to watch, their friendship ensuring that Laurence and Wilfred’s friendship is entirely believable. In fact you’re so caught up in their friendship that you forget there are no other characters on stage during the show. Barry O’Reilly is impressive as the initially innocent Laurence who experiences a journey of growth as the musical progresses, while Teddy Hinde shines with their brilliantly exuberant performance of Wilbur, their voice equally notable. A brief sound issue with Teddy’s microphone during the live stream certainly didn’t detract from the production and credit must go to the team for swiftly resolving the problem.

A joyous production with two standout performances, Is He Musical? is a promising and timely new musical which is deserved of a bright future.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Is He Musical? runs at the Curve Leicester on 23rd February and London’s Other Palace on 25-26 February. For more information visit https://linktr.ee/ishemusical