The London Rose

musicals and operas · cotton blend productions · Ages 13+ · United States of America

world premiere
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July 01, 2019 certified reviewer

What I liked

The casting of a trans man in the lead trans role made me so happy; it doesn’t happen enough and Oliver Rotunno did a fantastic job as Edward. He also shared a beautiful chemistry with his partner and co-star Ember Everett (who played Rose), which did wonders for the story’s romantic elements. The score is generally strong and the story itself is a powerful one.

The trigger warnings were delivered well (which is an important one for me!). The assault scene was undoubtedly the strongest and most powerful moment of the show, and was truly riveting to watch.

What I didn't like

In its current form, the show is too long. 20 songs, while impressive, is a LOT of music for an audience to listen to in one go. The songs individually have a strong sense of harmony and style, but collectively they begin to sound very similar. Watch out for lyric cramming and ranges! (Also, be kind to your actors’ vocal cords.)

I am not sure if the writer Mia Cotton is in any way non-cis, but it does feel like The London Rose lacks a sense of dysphoria or other parts of the trans experience. If you want your show’s tag to be “A Transgender Musical,” take care to make the story reflects that in its themes; the show is currently dominated by its forbidden romance/love triangle more than anything.

My overall impression

As a transgender musical theater creator and audience member, the fact that this show existed made me really happy. It was one of two shows at Fringe that made me cry (no small feat!) but also had a lot of fun to it despite being about a serious topic. The cast also brought an impressive energy—especially for a midnight showing!

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