Okay before you start … the musical Emojiland has nothing to do with the controversial song pictures film ‘the emoji movie’ which to be honest, At first, I thought they were related so assumed this musical would be a child-friendly snooze-feat as the song create a crystal clear image of vibrant and colourful costume/staging and while these assumptions are correct it has been layered in such a way to create a piece of reflective theatre that is relevant for almost all ages (this does become complicated but I will discuss this later.) The only thing that the movie and musical is the fact that it follows the lives of emojis that are living inside a smartphone but that’s about it. This musical talks about a new software update on the ‘emojiland’ that will bring in a wave of new emojis which scares the original emojis from previous ‘updates.’ I can’t help but view this narrative as a political perspective on immigration and acceptance and I may be reading to much into it but when one of the characters talks about how they may be all different on the outside but it’s the code (on the inside) the unifies them, I can’t help but think about ideas of racism and discrimination. Tackling ideas of acceptance in such an accessible way for any age is incredible and helps every age group to take something from this show. Despite these implied political themes, there is also a constant air of fun and comedy in the show with the combination of serious and comedy sounds like it shouldn’t work but it just does!
As you might have guessed this musical is all about emojis so it would help for you to have some technical knowledge. Now, I’m not saying you won’t enjoy this musical if you are not familiar with modern technology but I think you get more from this musical if you are. All the character names in this music are based on their emojis that they represent with this diverse community learning not to take each other at face value. The creative team behind this project had managed to subvert the ideas we have about these emojis without me even realising I thought anything about them. For example, there is a smiley face dealing with depression, a prince who doesn’t want a prince in her life and a ‘cool’ sunglass smiley who can see past his own reflection. The tag line for this show is “a textiscential new musical” which while being a very clever pun should be taken very seriously. The show deals with very important themes and issues and leaves you reflecting on your own life whether that’s on ideas of acceptance, mental health or just general emotions but through the medium of jovial emojis which is insanely clever!
The show opens (as most shows do) with the overture which is crammed full of energy and sets the president for the rest of the show. It’s performed in such a way that it forces the listeners to imagine the set/staging and then to marvel at its magnificence (obviously seeing the show live there would be no imaging!) which truly showcases the power music can have. This then flawlessly transitions into the official opening number which was great albeit these transitions have become a tad overdone for me but was it was good nevertheless. The opening number “it’s just so great to be alive” is again crammed full of energy and develops the optimistic nature for the show. This song is a very heavily character-based ensemble number which I can see many children’s theatre schools covering this number due to its fun nature. However, the very opening of this number is very mysterious and helps plant seeds for the overall narrative. This is, for me, the perfect opening number as it developed the themes and the nature of the show perfectly while at the same time planting seeds for possible storylines. My personal favourite song in this musical is “Princess is a b*tch” which gave me everything I could possibly want and more from the villain-esque character. This is an almost pop song that has influences from Lady Gaga complete with bucket loads of sas! As you probably guessed this song contains a lot of strong languages which is very confusing to me as without this use of swear words would have kept the show friendly for all ages. This leads me to probably my favourite line ever uttered in a musical where the new prince is talking to the original princes and quips “you must be on about the princess of Egypt as this b*tch is in denial” which was ridiculous sassy and incredibly hilarious.
The skull emoji (☠️ for reference) is one of the greatest characters in this musical with his performance of the song ‘Cross my bones’ being performed flawlessly. Lucas Steele, who plays the skull, is clearly a very talented performer with his rendition of this song being hauntingly beautiful due to the dark nature of the song. The accent and pronunciation choice Lucas had chosen worked perfectly with the character and helped add to the mysterious nature which is fantastic! The sassy duo (as I will now refer to them) of the prince and princess (played by Josh lamon and Lesli Margherita)return with a passion when they perform the song titled “firework ball” which song celebrating the installation of the new firework which will potentially stop the introduction of new more powerful emojis. Josh Ramon showcases his rapping ability excellently and helped to create the party celebration vibes of this number. Through the song, I can only imagine the visual spectacular being staged and I personally hope it contains lights and dancing galore! There is also a section of this song that is almost a relaxed idea of dubstep which was the icing on the cake. I am honestly in awe as to how the creative team working on ‘Emojiland the musical’ has managed to capture so much tension and drama into the song titled simply “virus.” It is a chaotic number full of audio effects on the performers’ voices to depict an electronic virus causing glitches etc which was excellent. This song marked a drastic change in the musical to a more serious and dramatic nature. The song “a thousand more words” is a very emotional and moving song that touches on ideas of loss which everyone can relate to. The next song “start again” was a great way to start the pick-up and return to the high energy of the beginning of the show. Both Lucas Steele and George Abud voices work beautifully together to create this almost showdown type number that builds back the excitement to the last two songs which I imagine when performed lived will have the audience leaving the theatre with a feel-good feeling!
Overall, this is a fun show and energy filled show that simultaneously discusses political and personal issues. It has become my life ambition to one day watch this show live as I imagine it’s a colourful and visual spectacle to watch as. My only concern with this show is that the target audience age does become somewhat murky throughout as emojis and the nature of the musical are perfect for a young audience (especially for a song titled “a pile of poo” which the performer dressed as a massive poo”) but there are certain songs that have strong language which does make it not suitable for that audience. The whole family would, in theory, be able to take something different from the show but because of the occasional use of strong language means kids can’t really watch this show. I would rate this show as five out of five 5 stars and recommend this show to anyone who wants to have a laugh while also having a think about some really important issues!