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Miss Nightingale Review – Sex, Scandals and Showbiz

| Theatre | 05/07/2013

Charlotte Murphy
Photo: Charlotte Murphy

Miss Nightingale, The Burlesque Musical brings gin, gents and garter-belts to life – but not as you know it.

Written and composed by Matthew Bugg, Miss Nightingale not only explores themes of sex, scandal and showbiz but more importantly, struggle, in London in the 1940’s.

Feisty northern songbird Maggie Brown (Amber Topaz) has moved to London in search of fame and fortune. She spends her days as a war nurse, but at night, Maggie relentlessly auditions at every cabaret bar with her friend and songwriter George (Ilan Goodman).

George is a Polish-Jewish homosexual refugee that can play the clarinet beautifully. You can tell already the musical is not a simple story. But no matter how talented the pair are, both together and individually, nobody wants their act.

The cloud of rejection is suddenly lifted when they meet animated nightclub owner Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Tomm Coles).

From the moment Coles steps on stage, his over-the-top flamboyant portrayal of Sir Frank is believable, to the point where the front row can feel the spitting wrath of his pro-noun-ci-at-ion of every single syl-la-ble.

Sir Frank soon uses his charm to give Maggie the confidence she needs to lure Miss Nightingale out of the birdcage, and into a pair of heels and stockings on the West End stage.

Photo: Simon Annand

Photo: Simon Annand

The size of the theatre creates an intimate atmosphere between the actors and audience, allowing Matthew Bugg to create the feel of a vintage glamour nightclub in the 1940’s.

With the spotlight on Maggie’s now sultry character, sexual tension begins to spark between George and Sir Frank. There is real chemistry between the pair and whilst they battle between heart and the need to comply with wartime prejudice, the story is no longer so simple.

Somehow, as bombs are going off around London, the three characters become intertwined and tangled in a love triangle. Scandalous is not the word.

While marriage is proposed, a cigarette case is stolen and The Savoy Hotel is blown up, the real dramatic heartbeat of the musical is the overlapping trio songs Could it Be and Someone Else’s Song.

However, what should be a moving and dramatic final number, is a jolly dance piece that loses the dramatic tension that has been created.

Throughout the musical, the songs are brimming with hilarious innuendos intended to shock, but what the audience slightly miss out on is more raunchiness and risqué teasing.

Topaz is the real star of the show, both vocally and physically, her energy drives each scene. It’s hard to tell what’s more impressive though, her vocal spectrum, or her range of accents.

Photo: Charlotte Murphy

Photo: Charlotte Murphy

Where and when?

Leicester Square Theatre, 2-7 July 2013


Check out further tour dates in the UK at

By Annie Byrne (@Annie_Squirreltheocdsquirrel)

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