Last week, Jen & I attended a performance of the European premiere of Vanities:The Musical. Based on the play of the same name, the show follows three best friends from cheerleaders in high school to sorority sisters to adulthood. The show spans from 1963 to 1974 & later from Texas to New York City. Due to the nature and intimacy of the Studio 2 at the Trafalgar Studios, you literally get to see these three women grow up, all in front of your eyes in the space of two hours.
One thing I loved about the show was how female centric it was. And it was such a joy to witness the chemistry and performances between three brilliant actresses.
Ashleigh Gray plays Kathy, who is the “planner” of the trio. She is the one who is organising the pep rallies, the cheers & who should join the sorority when they leave. The closer she gets to leaving the security of being young, the more she realises she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. And I think this is something that hundreds & hundreds of people go through. Ashleigh Gray was brilliant as Kathy. I was familiar with her as a few of my friends had seen her in Wicked, but this was my first time seeing her in a show. Her performance of “Cute Boys with Short Haircuts” was particularly moving.
Lauren Samuels plays Mary, a free spirited woman who wants to leave Texas and her family behind. Mary’s solo song “Fly Into The Future” was my favourite song from the show. Mary has a ticket, flies around Europe for a couple of years and comes back the States to open an erotic art gallery as well as causing a rift in the trio. Like Ashleigh, I had known of her but this was my first time seeing her in a show.
And finally, Lizzy Connolly plays Joanne, a conservative woman who wants a happy ever after with her high school boyfriend. I had seen Lizzy previously in a show called Jest End, a show that takes the piss out of other shows in the West End, so I knew how brilliant her comedic timing was. And it’s definitely great to see her in a show that highlights how funny she is.
Vanities is a breath of fresh air in musical theatre and in more roles for women. Ultimately it’s a story of a friendship coming full circle. I really enjoyed watching these three brilliant actresses interact with each other in this intimate space. I will say, that at times, the pacing of the show slow downs when there are costume/wig changes and I found myself becoming separated from the piece. But that was the only thing that made me distracted and once the characters were back on stage, I was back in the atmosphere again. With a light and refreshing score by David Kirshenbaum and wonderful direction from Racky Plews, I’m very glad I got to see this show in this very limited run.
Vanities: The Musical is running at the Trafalgar Studios 2 from 1st September – 1st October. For more info you can find out here