PUNCHY the Musical, 1 Star

PUNCHY the Musical
The Courtyard Theatre
2nd to 21st Nov 2021

“Conceived by Sylvia Anderson Award-winning composer Jack Terroni, with production consultancy provided by Joan Lane (The King’s Speech), the soundtrack is produced by triple platinum-selling producer/composer Steve Brown (Laura Mvula/Magic Goes Wrong). Playwright Kevin McMahon has adapted Punchy! from Richard Barrett’s thought-provoking work What My Soul Told Me.
They will be joined by Lucy Penrose (Judy!, West End) as Edith Jameson, Amy Mitchell as Doreen Lofthouse, Fiona Kelly as Olive Jameson, Phillip Gill as Manny Cohen, Robert Allen as James Armstrong/Mickey Flynn and Richie Brett as Frankie Brown.

Blending a contemporary mix of soul, indie rock and pop songs, Jack Terroni’s soundtrack is played by an onstage band. This eclectic soundscape sets the tone for the curious characters of Soul and Ego to play with the very fabric of time, in the heart of an ordinary working-class London community.
Terroni drew upon stories from his mother’s childhood in 1950s Islington, telling the tales of everyday people, and one particular ‘lost soul’: the inspiration for the character Punchy lived in his mother’s building.
Composer Jack Terroni commented, I didn’t set out to write a musical as I’ve always been put off by the thought of jazz hands and glitter! If I was writing one, it had to rip up the rulebook! Punchy! was inspired by the real story of my mother’s working-class childhood in 1950s Islington. I was moved at how a young man with mental health challenges left home one day never to be seen again. Punchy! imagines what could have been if he followed the voice of his Soul and asks you to be courageous enough to do the same.”

Richard Lambert, 1 Star

Looking for the positives about this show: the band was great and the songs were good. The cast are also good. I enjoyed the ensemble choreographic number in the 1st half.

But then there is so much that is problematic.

The venue lighting needs to be fixed – the 1st floor landing where you wait until the theatre opens is dangerously dark, and the house lighting inside the theatre flashes every now and again like a camera flash.

The show lighting lacked front fill so you have most of the show in silhouette. You can’t see the cast’s faces. When the moving lights were supposed to highlight they missed their mark, often picking out empty spaces instead. There were a few manual movements of the lights attempted mid-show but then this stopped about 20 minutes in. It’s a musical set in the 1950s so why is there LED Tape around a doorframe and why do the set trellis have inset LEDs that can do rainbow effects?

The Set Design centred around a very flimsy door set on a truck on wheels. It wobbles. It’s unnecessary.

The Direction fails to show consistency – cast entering the space via the wobbly door often then leave by walking around the door.

The Band, lovely though they sound, drown out the singing. And then there is backing tracks. Why do you need backing tracks when you have a live band? And there is absolutely no excuse for backing tracks to drown out the live cast when it is so easy to turn down on the mixer.

The Book is flimsy and doesn’t really go anywhere and the Script is very pedestrian.

There is so much to fix in this show that it’s not yet ready for public performance. Let’s call this a workshop and watch it return in better shape in a year or so, with lighting to see the actor’s faces.

Further Info

Director Tiffany King
Writer Kevin McMahon
Composer/Producer Jack Terroni
Production Consultant Joan Lane
Soundtrack Producer Steve Brown
Source Material Richard Barrett

George ‘Punchy’ Armstrong Robert Hook
Ego Jaymes Sygrove
Soul Peter Parker Mensah
Edith Jameson Lucy Penrose
Doreen Lofthouse Amy Mitchell
Olive Jameson Fiona Kelly
Manny Cohen Phillip Gill
James Armstrong/Mickey Flynn Robert Allen
Frankie Brown Richie Brett

Live Band
Lead Vocalist, Piano, Guitar Jack Terroni
Drums Tony Louis Fernand
Bass Marco Marzola
Saxophone Ben Hadwen
Guitar Iuri Bianchi
Backing Vocals Charlene McTaggert
Social Media @punchythemusical