6th November 2023
Southwark Playhouse has often been a place to debut brand new musicals and clearly the pandemic was not going to stop them! The latest addition to their large collection of online shows currently available is a new musical version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice tells the story of sorcerer Johan Gottel and how his daughter Eva attempts to learn how to do magic to prove to Erik Sondersson that magic is real. This is a beautiful and simple telling of the story, sprinkled with magic, with an original score which fits the mood of the piece well.
Richard Hough writes the book and lyrics, with music by Ben Morales Frost. They do a great job at refreshing the story and the piece raises key issues that should be considered and discussed in contemporary society. It successfully discusses the issue of capitalism and consumerism in particular. The show begins to explore some ideas around class, and the North/South divide, although more could have been done with this.
Charlotte Westenra’s direction is great, keeping the piece simple and focused on the plot and the characters, without getting too sucked into spectacle. She could have made better use of the fact the show was being produced for film though as this was just a filmed stage production. Maia Kirkman-Richards’ puppetry design is beautiful and is brought to life brilliantly by the ensemble under Scarlet Wilderink’s direction. Steven Harris’ choreography, particularly for the iconic broom sequence, is lovely. Anna Kelsey’s set and costume design is spot on for the piece and she does a great job at differentiating between the different classes of people.
West End star David Thaxton (Come From Away, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) plays sorcerer Johan Gottel. He immediately draws the audience in with his strong stage presence and warm nature. His voice is just wonderful to listen to and it’s almost a shame he doesn’t get more songs. Mary Moore (BBC’s Doctors, Bring It On) plays his daughter Eva. She is warm and immediately loveable – the audience was immediately rooting for her. Her chemistry with Yazdan Qafouri (The Band, BBC’s Let It Shine) was completely believable and it was refreshing to see a relationship on stage that wasn’t overtly romantic. Qafouri’s Erik Sondersson was likeable, despite being the slightly stuck up posh boy. It would have been good if his character was developed a bit more though as it felt like he was just Eva’s friend.
Marc Pickering (Boardwalk Empire, Toxic Avenger, Seussical) was fantastic as Fabian Lyddeker. His musical numbers were great fun and his performance was funny. He was brilliant opposite Dawn Hope (Follies, Miss Littlewood, Chicago) as Lamia Lydekker, his mother. Her vocals were outstanding and very powerful. Her storyline could have had a little more development however. It felt like she was introduced as an opposition to magic but that wasn’t particularly explored. The plot twist with her character at the end worked fairly well.
The show has a small but strong ensemble, who bring the iconic walking brooms sequence to life brilliantly. They also do some brilliant puppetry work. Nicole Blackman (original cast of Little Shop of Horrors, The Lion King) brings some great energy to the piece as Mrs Arno. Vicki Lee Taylor (A Chorus Line, Carousel, Sunset Boulevard) was great fun as Fabian’s Nanny.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is a fun retelling of the classic story, making some relevant comments on today’s society. This production is definitely suitable for all the family. Be sure to get your tickets for this brand new musical! Buy them now by clicking here and they cost £15. The shows runs until Sunday 14th March.