Last night I attended the world premiere of Burretti - The Musical. I had previously reviewed the film that local genius, Lee Scriven had produced, and now I was one of the first to witness the musical. I wasn’t going to review this; I was going as a punter to enjoy it rather than thinking about what I was going to write. But sometimes you come across something so outstanding that you are motivated to review. The last time this happened was Lazarus! Burretti - The Musical falls into the same category for me.
The story is one that most die-hard Bowie fans are familiar with. Fred Burrett was born in London and moved to Milton Keynes with his family. He lived in Bletchley in the times when it was very difficult to be gay. Even his own dad struggles that his son is different or ‘special’ as he dad says in a sarcastic tone. His brother likes sport, especially wrestling and couldn’t be more different from Fred. His mum cares and tries to comfort him but Fred only has two passions; dancing and designing clothes. His dad jokingly asks if he is going to a wedding as he always looks so smart. The local skinheads don’t like him and try to beat him up. Fred has a friend called Dave (no - not that one!) and they go to the local nightclub. Dave fancies Rosalyn but she is in love with Fred. Fred tells her he is gay. Fred feels he needs to be around people who appreciate his talents and heads on down to London. His dad feels some regret at this but Fred has made up his mind.
Life is about to change for Fred. He is now Freddie Burretti and he is a regular at the Sombrero club that a certain Starman frequents. Their paths cross and there is no doubt of the friendship. Freddie is invited down to Hadden Hall and they become good friends. Freddie makes outfits for them both. After watching A Clockwork Orange he is inspired to design a similar outfit. However, Freddie being Freddie makes it better than the film. It’s now well known as the outfit that Bowie wore on TOTP for Starman.
Paul MacDonald plays Freddie and he is simply outstanding in the role. Paul makes Freddie charming, charismatic and stylish with a certain flair. Paul delivers the role perfectly and the mum in me just wanted to hug him and tell him it will all be alright. Paul is an amazing dancer and truly owns the stage. Every mannerism worked perfectly for the character; I just loved, the flicks of the hair. Paul was everything I would expect and more. Paul delivers in abundance!
Bobby Jones is played by Luke Duffett and of course is for all intended purposes is David Bowie. It must be a very daunting role to play, especially to someone like me, a die-hard. However, Luke gives a great performance, as a shy and quiet guy off stage but a serious performer onstage. His wife Anika is again meant to be homage to Angie Bowie. Emma Donaghy plays the role and in my opinion is better than the real thing. Emma gives a great performance of loud obnoxious Ange but without any of the elements that make me dislike the real Ange so much. Rosalyn is played by Ginny Davies. I have seen Ginny onstage before but had forgotten how stunning her acting and singing abilities are. I loved her sassy attitude as Rosalyn (a Bowie cover from Pin-ups). The whole cast are outstanding – over 40 actors in the show and I cannot name them all or the review would be too long – but this show is everything you need. A fantastic live band accompanies very accomplished singers who are simply amazing. It made me so proud to think we have all this local talent in Milton Keynes. Who knows how many of them will go on to have a musical made about them? I want to give a special mention to Caz Tricks as director who should be given a Bafta for putting such a show together! Well done Caz. There is no doubt that if I ever write a script, Caz is top of my list for the Director job.
Choice of songs were fantastic. Not just the greatest hits. Again, lots for the die-hards including Rosalyn, When I Live My Dream (this is in my top five of favourite Bowie songs so I was delighted with this choice), Fill Your Heart, Life On Mars, Starman, It Aint Easy, Star, White Light White Heat, Lady Stardust and the classic Heroes. But despite the obvious Bowie connection throughout this story, there is no doubt that the star of this show is Freddie Burretti. He is absolutely the star and his story shines brightly. Costumes were in character and fitted the period perfectly. And yes, we do get to see the classic Blue ‘Life On Mars’ Suit.
The show is quite long so you do get a lot for your money. It’s such a wonderful story. If I was asked for any criticism for this show, I would struggle to say anything negative. I would probably only change the Starman performance as the significance of Bowie draping his arm over Ronno changed the life of so many young fans who were different. It’s one of the reasons Bowie was voted the best entertainer of the 20th century recently. And, sadly none of the Top Of The Pops dancers were sporting a tank top. Tank Top boy has been the subject of many a debate over the years.
This show is inspirational. Its moral is that you can be all you want to be. The script is fantastic with really original ideas such as using the lyrics of Five Years to be a news item – a brilliant touch. Intertwined with Bowie quotes and throw away lines that those who aren’t die-hard may miss, there is so much for the Bowie die-hard to appreciate. This show has a talented cast, a stunning script, a fabulous choice of songs and many moments of humour. As a Bowie aficionado I would say it’s right up there as one of the best Bowie related shows I’ve ever seen. I think this should do a UK tour; play the Edinburgh Fringe and definitely star in the West End. It’s a rock n roll star!