John and Jen @ Southwark Playhouse*

Rating: 4/5
Playing Until: 21st August 2021
Tickets and more information: https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/show-whats-on/john-jen/

Andrew Lippa’s musicals are no stranger to the UK theatre scene having had acclaimed productions of The Addams Family, Big Fish and The Wild Party visit our shores in the past few years. Now, an updated version of his wonderful 2 hander musical about a pair of siblings has arrived at the Southwark Playhouse. First starting in 1985, we follow the title characters as life and growing older impacts their relationship in the present and their lives in the future.

Jen in this production is played by Rachel Tucker. Now, we all know she can sing incredibly well. But what really moved me about her performance is the detail in her acting choices. We first meet Jen as a 7 year old girl and end with her being a full grown adult. Rachel captures the element of each stage of Jen’s life with such ease and makes for fantastic development. With this being in the Little space at the SP, this is quite a rare chance to see a performer of Rachel’s caliber in such an intimate venue/experience that you may not necessarily get in big theatres or concert halls. Alongside her is Lewis Cornay playing John. Between the two of them, they have a really wonderful dynamic that grows and grows as the show goes on. He plays John with a real innocence that works well opposite Tucker’s characterization of Jen. I also found that the character didn’t become one of those annoying kid characters that the audience gets pissed off with easily. It was a really nice balance and both performers gave fantastic performances.

The music is very much in vein of Andrew Lippa’s style, if you’re familiar with the pop infused sound that runs throughout the piece. There is a few clever motifs that run throughout the show, linking the characters past to their present. The orchestrations are delightful from Andrew Lippa and Jason Robert Brown as well.

Overall, I really really enjoyed this. I left the theatre with a warm fuzzy feeling after watching this. Despite being an only child myself, I could still feel and admire the strong connection between siblings. Definitely one to go and see.

Categories: On Stage

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