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Loserville – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Book/Music/Lyrics: Elliot Davis &James Bourne

Director: Steven Dexter

Reviewer: Robin Winters

[Rating:4]

Originally written as a workshop production for YMT:UK in 2009, Elliot Davis and James Bourne’s musical now gets its professional world premiere at The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Loserville takes its original inspiration from co-creator Bourne’s band (Son of Dork) first album ‘Welcome to Loserville’ and unlike the current trend of Jukebox musicals that have infiltrated the theatrical landscape, Bourne and Davis created a host of new songs in the style of the original album to complement the small handful of tracks that did make the show.

Michael Dork (Aaron Sidwell) is a computer nerd, who is close to breaking the vital code of being able to make computers communicate, a task that has occupied him for many years, throw in a plot that involves a rich and jealous jock (Gareth Gates) and a love interest (Eliza Hope Bennett) and you can quickly guess the rest.

As plots go the story is simple this is ‘Popcorn’ theatre at its best, with its self referential book Loserville never takes itself too seriously, in fact one feels more can actually be made of this, the jokes are there and have real promise but the book almost feels held back and if it could be released a little more then it could soar even higher.

At present Loserville feels like the love child of 80s cult film Weird Science and rock musical Spring Awakening…Something which on paper would seem almost impossible to work, but In practice thanks mainly to a highly energetic cast, inspirational choreography (Nick Winston) and cleverly realised direction (Steven Dexter) Loserville strikes the right balance to be one of the freshest pieces of new musical theatre of recent times and even better is that it’s British born and bred.

The cast are uniformly excellent, not only pulling off Winston’s sharp and frantic choreography with aplomb but attacking Bourne’s rock score with a powerful edge; Sidwell makes for a strong lead and genuinely Impresses with his vocal capabilities, Gareth Gates brings a finely tuned performance as bully Eddie Arch even if the rôle is slightly underdeveloped for a performer of Gates’ ability. Eliza Hope Bennett soars as geeky love interest Holly and her rich and smooth alto vocals a real pleasure to listen to.

Excellent support is given from Charlotte Harwood as Leia Dawkins and Whitney White as the beautiful and hidden geek Samantha while Richard Lowe as Lucas Lloyd brings plenty of boyish charm to the stage, but it is the performances of Daniel Buckley (Marvin) and Rock Schools Lil’ Chris who steal show, their comic timing impeccable and you can’t help but levitate your focus them when they are onstage.

The set however (Francis O’Connor) is a little hit and miss; mainly due to having two very contrasting ideas trying to work together, singularly they each have value from the hi-tech motherboard and Tron-esque neon base for the majority of the stage to the highly original cartoon stylised approach of the props/furniture (which felt far more interesting and visually pleasing).

Loserville is incredibly enjoyable and throughly entertaining, and proves yet again that you need to look outside of London and towards the regions for inventive programming and new writing.

Photo: Tristram Kentpon

Runs until 14th July

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2 comments

  1. I saw this musical last week, and was very impressed, not only with the energy that was put into it by the cast, but also by the humour and great vocals. A good all round effort by everyone.

  2. I saw the musical last night. It is fresh and very energetic. The cast display an infectious enthusiasm and all sing and dance well. I found the sets and the cartoonish `props` very inventive. I would also like to compliment the live band, both my friend and myself would have loved to have seen/heard more of them. I cannot recommend it highly enough and urge anyone who wants an entertaining life affirming fun night to see this promising new musical.