What do you want? This is a question that we are always asking ourselves but can be too afraid to answer. Whether what we want is to break bad habits, succumb to our most wanted desires or simply just be happy – When Midnight Strikes is a musical that introduces us to twelve individuals that share their struggles and conflicts at a Y2K party. Unfortunately, the show’s characters are all too similar.
With book and lyrics by Kevin Hammonds and music by Charles Miller, When Midnight Strikes is based at Jennifer and Christopher’s high-end New York apartment during an intimate dinner party to celebrate the new millennium. We are quickly introduced to the majority of their party guests, all of which have their own secrets and/or baggage. As the night unwinds, we delve deeper into their lives. To make things worse, Jennifer (played by Elizabeth Chadwick) is perturbed to find out her husband, Christopher has been cheating on her and tries to muster the courage to confront him.
The production tries to give all twelve characters the time to shine and a solo – so much so that it presents itself as a showcase instead of a story worth telling. The characters are underdeveloped and all too similar and their ‘moments’ can fall flat with not pay off due to the rushing styles of the book. The story wears out early on but there are moments of character and captivating story that grab our interest but they are few and far between. The first moment was the entrance of Jennifer’s lively younger sister Twyla (Georgina Nicholas) and stereotyped-homosexual Bradley (Marc Kelly).
Their entrance number is not particularly fresh lyrically but the energy change is warmly welcomed and it is sold by Nicholas’ and Kelly’s joie de vivre. The direction is minimal and with more of a focus on the dry-witted one-liners and differentiating characteristics of our dinner guests (of which there are many opportunities), the show would have elevated strongly.
Overall, the singing is the When Midnight Strike’s strongest asset but it isn’t until Ellie Nunn’s Josephina has her time in the spotlight that it is clear how the show is currently relying on solo performances to see it through. Nunn is strong and captivating throughout. Her character storyline, however cliche, is definitely earned. Another blossoming promise is Georgina Nicholas whose Act II solo allows her to present some vulnerability and step away strongly from the ensemble cast.
Another late bloomer is Victoria Waddington’s Muriel who is able to let loose and have a little fun in her number with Andrew Truluck’s Edward. At times, Muriel and Edward can be refreshing to watch as there’s little difference between many of these characters that when there is something a little more obviously different, the audience takes it. All the cast try their best but majority suffer from the material they are given. When Midnight Strikes could be a promising show instead of what it currently is – a highlighted showcase, and with work could be worth seeing again. Until then, this show could simply stay in the drama school end-of-year show choices. “Ah well, there’s always next year…”
Review by Elliott Jordan
It’s New Year’s Eve 1999 and Jennifer and Christopher welcome you to the party of parties. But when everyone has something they want to change, and plenty they want to hide, the party starts to fall apart. The clock is ticking, and when midnight strikes, what will the new year bring?
Charles Miller’s musical stars Simon Burr as Christopher, Elizabeth Chadwick as Jenifer, Ellie Nunn as Josephina, Victoria George as Zoe, Stephanie Lyse as Nicole, James Dangerfield as Greg, Marcia Sommerford as Rachel, Georgina Nicholas as Twyla, Marc Kelly as Bradley, Matthew Boyd as Alex, Andrew Truluck as Edward and Victoria Waddington as Muriel. Musical Direction by Oli Rew.
Producers – Marc Kelly and Elizabeth Chadwick for MKEC Productions
Musical Director – Oli Rew
Set Design – Victoria Francis
Technical Director – Andy Hill
Stage Manager – Helen Burdett
When Midnight Strikes
Book and Lyrics: Kevin Hammonds
Music: Charles Miller
Tuesday 17th October – Sunday 12th November
Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5 0LJ