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James Wilson-Taylor: Ginger Is The New Black, 1st – 5th November 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre

| Comedy, Music | 21/10/2016


Ah, Autumn.  The ground matted with crisp, ocher leaves that release a congenial crunch and create a copper-coloured carpet.  Early sunsets dye the sky blood-red and enflame wisps of cloud freckling the planet.  An urban fox – painted from the edges of its ears to the tip of its tail in rich, titian pelt – hides in the undergrowth, nibbling at a discarded … erm, Solero.  This seasonal scene provides the perfect backdrop for James Wilson-Taylor to return to Leicester Square Theatre with his new show, Ginger Is The New Black, between 1st and 5th November 2016.  

As with his previous successes – Bat-Fan and I Need a Doctor: The Whosical, Wilson-Taylor unravels a tightly-written night of entertaining songs, stand-up comedy and pleasing pop culture references all delivered in his warm, relaxed style.  However, this show marks a slight change of tack, using the stage to stand up for his carrot-topped kin.  And that’s not all.  As he told Ian Cater, Wilson-Taylor’s also making his fellow gingers an offer they can’t refuse.

1-copyIn the US, the depressingly regular mistreatment of African Americans has spawned the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement, harnessing protest through large demonstrations and worldwide solidarity on Twitter.  Back on this side of the pond, another minority continues to face daily prejudice and James Wilson-Taylor is finally doing something about it.

Not through marches.  Not by lobbying.  Not even via a catchy hashtag.  Instead, Wilson-Taylor is championing the rights of his fellow redheads with the skills he learned on a masters’ degree in musical theatre.  Following last year’s successful run of Bat-Fan – an hour-long audition to replace Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader, showcasing Wilson-Taylor’s acting, musical and comedy talents – Wilson-Taylor returns to London with with Ginger Is The New Black.

The show is packed with homages to ginger icons.  There’s a song in the style of Ed Sheeran, an attempt to rebrand Ron Weasley as a sex symbol, and a firm rebuttal of historic accusations that Wilson-Taylor’s pasty skin means he’s a vampire.  And that’s just for starters.

“What it means to be ginger in 2016 is the kick-off point,” he says, “but we cover lots of other things.  Especially plenty of pop culture references, because that’s what I seem to know most about.”

free_admission_xsmallIf that isn’t enough to tempt you, for a limited time Wilson-Taylor’s offering fans of his favoured hue an additional incentive: free tickets for gingers who bring a friend along.  He says he was tempted to unleash the offer at the Edinburgh Fringe – where the show sold-out and was well-received – but held off for practical reasons.  “If I’d done it in Scotland, I’d be bankrupt by now.  But in London we’re still an endangered species, so it should be fine.

“Also, if any famous gingers show up, I’ll buy them a beer,” he adds generously.  “Except Ed Sheehan.  He can get his own round.”

There’s a chance he’ll be taken up on his offer of A-list alcohol: Wilson-Taylor’s gained a solid foothold in the entertainment industry through his regular PopBuzz podcasts, previous cult shows and reaching the semi-finals of the 2016 Musical Comedy Awards.  And any who do show up should enjoy more than just a free pint: as with Wilson-Taylor’s past work, the set is littered with entertaining songs, chummy humour, charisma and positivity.

But Ginger Is The New Black differs from Bat-Fan and I Need A Doctor, opening broader avenues than mere comic book culture.  While it’s firmly tongue-in-cheek and designed to entertain, not to effect change, Wilson-Taylor broaches more meaningful subject-matter that begs the question: is there really an anti-ginger agenda in 2016?

“This is a comedy show,” he reassures me, “but lots of stereotypes still pervade.  That became clear when I announced the show’s title on Facebook and got a really angry comment attacking me and my kind.  So that provides a good platform to try to debunk some myths about gingers.  It’s slightly ranty at times, but in a really fun way.”

Head along and judge for yourselves.  And, if you’ve got any sense, take a ginger with you. #GingerLivesMatter

James Wilson-Taylor is performing ‘Ginger Is The New Black’ at 19.00 between 1st and 5th November 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre.  For tickets, head here.  For more information on James, see his website (of mainly journalistic content) and follow him on Twitter @MrJayTee.

[Certain sections of this article replicate parts of the preview we produced ahead of this show’s run at the Edinburgh Fringe.  For that, we make no apology.  Sorry.]

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