What a show this is! It is full-on with more sparkle and shine than you could throw tinsel at! This show is part panto, part comedy, part rom-com and most definitely festive, setting you up for the forthcoming party season. To be honest, I was feeling a bit bah humbug as the weather is turning cold, its dark at night but I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to summer. After seeing this show I feel like Elf I am sooo ready for the festive season! This is obviously a show about Christmas; a Christmas nativity in fact and it works on all levels. It has a brilliant script which is funny and heart-warming. The songs are catchy and the numbers are impressive, with a fantastic cast and excellent kids make this one not to miss.
The show tells the story of three friends that grow up together. Two of them fall in love but growing up means following your heart for a career and so Mr Maddens decides to become a teacher at St Bernadette’s while his sweetheart, Jennifer heads for Hollywood. Their childhood friend Mr Shakespeare also becomes a teacher at Oakmoor, a rival school. Every year the schools have a nativity, but Mr Shakespeare wants to make sure he gets the five-star review. Mr Maddens has previously has minus two stars for his last nativity and didn’t want to do another one but the head, Mrs Bevan insists. She gives him a new teaching assistant to help him, Mr Poppy. Mr Poppy is the most excitable grown up kid ever. He is positive and says we can do anything – including putting on a fantastic nativity show with a talking camel and a death slide for the Angel Gabriel. He understands the children on their level and loves to have fun. The exact opposite to Mr Maddens. While, picking out a Christmas tree they bump into Mr Shakespeare. Mr Maddens tells a small white lie to boast that Hollywood are coming to see their nativity this year. Well Mr Poppy overhears and soon enough the whole city of Coventry knows.
Mr Maddens is played by Scott Garnham and he is the perfect Mr Maddens. Sad and melancholy, missing the love of his life and having to do a happy nativity show – Scott brings it and makes Mr Maddens adorable even when he is grumpy. Jennifer is played by the talented Ashleigh Gray and she gives a wonderful performance and belts out some great numbers. Mr Shakespeare is played by Andy Brady and I do have to mention his King Herod which is not unlike a KISS performance – fantastic in every measure and Andy makes a very enjoyable so-called baddie.
Mr Poppy is played by Simon Lipkin and is so full of energy I secretly think he is a 10-year-old. He is absolutely fabulous and has the audience in the palm of his hand from the opening introduction where he is narrating the story. I honestly don’t know how Simon does this every night but whatever he is on – I want some! Simon gets some great lines as well, calling the kids at St Bernadette’s hyperactive smurfs due to their blue uniforms. He does the friend test with Mr Maddens – ‘Who is your favourite spice girl?’ - I just loved that! But there is a more serious undercurrent to the whole show. The message is a can-do infectious positivity and not limit your expectations of your kids – Let every child shine in their own individuality. Schools should take note!
This whole show is delightful, if you liked Matilda – you will love this. And Mr Maddens, I give your show a five-star review – it’s pure joy to watch and warms your heart. What more can you ask for at this time of year?!
Nativity is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 17 November 2018.