I ’suppose’ I should start this week musical Monday review by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas! I know it’s not been the best year for everyone but the support we at Rhys Reviews have received this past year has been overwhelming and we are so grateful to everyone who has read our reviews, shared our pages etc. Your support has been appreciated and I can’t wait to see how much we grow in the next year!
As someone who grew up within the church, the nativity play was always the highlight of the year with a video recently resurfacing of me performing as a chimney sweep/wise man recently resurfacing on Facebook. Over the years I have been many characters such an angel, Elvis impersonator, and even Joseph among other characters throughout the years and I am co constantly amazed by people who have played the like of spiderman, a disco ball and a lizard in the nativity plays. They usually follow the same story of Jesus being born in a stable with a collection of visitors along the way. As someone who was interested in performing from a young age, we had to act, dance in song as ridiculously over-the-top characters in front of an audience of parents to try and spread the Christmas cheer. The brand new Christmas musical ”Follow” produced by the faith baptist church is an alternative to the nativity plays as it also tries to promote a gospel message of Christmas. I have been thinking recently that there are very few faith-based musicals. I am aware of the like of Joseph and his amazing technicolour dream coat and Jesus Christ superstar (which is loosely based) there are a plethora of fantastical stories within the bible for example that could easily be adapted to a musical production.
As you would guess this is a heavily religious musical soundtrack (available on Spotify) and so of you are against the idea of religion then this is not a musical for you. As someone who grew up in the church, I always appreciate the traditional hymns and ideas of Christmas and these types of services help to truly set me in the Christmas spirit. The songs within this album are generally stripped back to just a piano and guitar to keep the focus on the religious aspects of the soundtrack. These instruments are clear references the church bands that smaller churches tend to have and as I grew up in a smaller church I appreciated this accompaniment. The songs are mostly more subdued and slow songs that are emotionally powered while also being fairly simple in their execution. The accessibility of the songs such that the show would be great for church-based performance groups who are looking for a more professional production to spread Christmas cheer.
The song titled “God Can” was a fairly powerful and methodical song that moves fairly slowly which I normally would have no issues with. This is a long song that is almost six minutes long and due to its subdued musically really makes the song seem a lot longer than it already is. I believe that the song needed a musical spike to help split up the song to help move the song along for its listeners. My favourite song in this entire album had to be the song titled “gift card” which was a funny song about the gifting process and how this character always receives the classic presents such as mugs and socks etc but would prefer gift cards. This comic relief contrasts the rest of the songs in this musical, and while it did not fully lean totally into the comedic potentiality of the song, did help break up the musical. The songs in this soundtrack are performed by some very good singers throughout with some nice harmonies appearing in the final song of the show.
Overall this is a very accessible musical soundtrack that promotes a more traditional Christmas message. It would be great for church production as it sticks honestly and rigidly to the religious messages in the show which I believe religious people would enjoy. I would rate this musical 3 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to people of faith who have noticed a lack of musical theatre that they relate to!