Review: Burlesque the Musical

Written by on June 26, 2024

Credit: Johan Persson

Review: Burlesque the Musical


25-06-24 World Premiere Gala Performance – Manchester Opera House by Jamie Griffiths

Whenever a film is turned into a musical, I have major reservations. They can be pale facsimiles of the original material, but i am delighted to say that Steven Antin’s Burlesque: The Musical has avoided all such traps – it is a dazzling triumph that takes the essence of his original film and elevates it to new heights. Bold and ambitious, this production captivates and delivers from start to finish.

Jess Folley shines as Ali, bringing a powerful and emotive performance that anchors the show. Her vocal prowess and stage presence are nothing short of impressive, making Ali a character to root for and admire. Jackie Burns steps into the role of Tess with an extraordinary presence, transforming it into her own. Her performance is nothing less than magnificent, offering a fresh take that still honours Cher’s iconic portrayal. When Tess and Jackie perform together (Got It All From You) it evokes memories of Jackie in her former role as the longest running Elpheba, belting out Defying Gravity on the New York stage. Their vocal chemistry is electrifying and the duet is incredibly satisfying.



Jess Folley as Ali with Jackie Burns as Tess
Credit: Johan Persson

Todrick Hall as Sean is a joy to watch. His energetic and captivating performance as Sean is a masterclass, with every joke and ad-lib landing perfectly with the audience, showcasing his exceptional timing and charisma. Hall’s Sean is both a source of comic relief and a driving force within the narrative. Diane Warren’s anthems from the original film are reimagined and faithfully weaved into this production, seamlessly blending with all-new epic songs. One new song that stands out is Todrick Hall’s masterpiece “Big,” which celebrates the history of Burlesque in spectacular fashion. This song, in particular, is sure to be talked about for years to come. A memorable highlight during this number is when Cher and Christina Aguilera were shown onscreen among a pantheon of icons, including Liza Minelli, Dita Von Teese, and Violet Chachki. The crowd went wild, and it was a moment that I will treasure from this performance, solidifying my belief that this show is deserving of five stars.

Todrick Hall as Sean
Credit: Johan Persson

The staging of “Burlesque” is a visual spectacle, ambitious in its design and execution. It is a true feast for the eyes, with sets and lighting that transport the audience into the heart of the story. The bold choices in staging underscore the show’s commitment to creating a captivating and unforgettable experience. It’s not your typical set up for a touring production – I can only imagine the scale of the convoy that will get it to Glasgow and then back to Manchester later in the Summer!

Credit: Johan Persson

Ryan-Lee Seager’s choreography is a standout element of the production. The entire cast works tirelessly throughout the show, delivering a total delight of movement and dance. The choreography is a rich tapestry that nods to a variety of musical styles, evoking the works of Fosse, Cabaret, Chicago, and more. Each dance number is meticulously crafted, contributing to the show’s dynamic and exhilarating pace. At no time do you feel this is a pastiche or parody, each musical number contributes to the overall production.

Burlesque: The Musical is a masterful production that pays homage to its cinematic predecessor while forging its own distinct path. It is a celebration of music, dance, and theatricality, making it a must-see for fans of bold, stylish musical theatre. This show is an absolute feast for the eyes and ears, and it has a glittering future ahead of it, deserving of every one of its five stars.

Get more details and tickers for the show from the official site HERE.

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