London Calling

musicals and operas · london calling - the musical · Ages 16+ · United States of America

world premiere
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Review by anonymous

June 24, 2017 certified reviewer

What I liked

The ambition of the team.

What I didn't like

See overall impressions.

My overall impression

The London Calling creative team appears to be attempting to craft an American Idiot style show — i.e., a narrative musical fueled by gritty, iconic punk rock. For me, it fell well short of its promise (despite the valiant efforts of the cast). First, the book commits the cardinal sin of rounding the edges off of the music, while failing to illuminate it. It’s content to string together the songs with an overly familiar tale of four garage band kids struggling to make their way in the world. The Clash was groundbreaking and it’s odd to see their work juxtaposed within such an ordinary framework. You excuse a lot in the Fringe, given the tight load-ins and reduced tech — but I can’t excuse the show’s lack of any cohesive point of view in the staging and choreography. Particularly in the numbers, the actors feel hung out to dry, left to flail and rage without direction or specificity. Aside from feeling sloppy, the result is an unfortunate flatness and sameness to the musical sequences. A word has to be said about the decision to perform the show to a track (instead of hiring a live band). No doubt there were financial reasons behind that choice. The backing track was fine, but the overall audio mix in the venue was not — and as a result the show didn’t rock (yet another cardinal sin). Further points docked for the embarrassing portrayal of women — two sexy female dancers in tight pants shake their asses as they move scenery and props between scenes — not sure why. American Idiot isn’t a favorite show of mine, but I now have a much deeper appreciation for its approach and theatricality. Clearly a lot of work went into London Calling, but I hope the team gleans some honest feedback before trying to take it to the next level.

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