As I child I loved the movie Toy Story (the first as this was the only one that had been produced at the time) I was so obsessed with the show that I would rewind the VHS to watch the scene where woody is being pulled down the road over and over again and now my parents can recreate this scene from memory. So it was clear that the idea of toys secretly coming to life was something that always excited me and so seeing a brand new musical that revolved around this same idea was very intriguing. The original cast recording of ‘Toyland’ (available on Spotify) Is an original album compilation of songs from the new musical which had been created by the teen writing duo of Tessa Barcelo and Wyland Stephenson. This project is a cabaret-style musical concert that gives a voice to iconic toys from our childhoods that feel ignored and disregarded in recent year. This means that each character is allowed to stand up and share their thoughts and internist emotional in an honest and relatable manner that many people continue to experience daily, especially right now.
The songs within this album are all live recordings of the numbers which gives the audience a clear idea of what they will experience if they go to the theatre to see this show. This means that people know exactly what they will be walking into by offering an authentic perspective on the show. There are only 8 tracks in this recording and the entire album is only 31 minutes long which means you can listen to it when you have some spare time. The other thing that is very noticeable in this recording is that every performer had recorded their audio themselves as each recording quality changed from each song to the next. The opening number of this show is titled “good girl gone bad” which is delivered by Barbie where she talks about the change she has experienced since being left alone. The final song in the show is called “Broken” which delivered by Teddy (who is the narrator of the show) who talks about being left by Ken as he pursues a romantic relationship with another man. I thought that having a gay Ken was a stroke of comic genius as this is something many people joke about and would cause an ex to become angry. There was a lull in the music towards the middle of this which built up again which managed to perfectly capture the emotional turmoil Barbi is experiencing while also remembers that she shouldn’t be angry at a close friend and this conflicts powers the lyrics and musical structure of the great song!
The second song in this recording was “Supple and Demand” which talks about how there was a time that people felt needed and important but once there other people’s need for them has expired they are left aside. Considering the current state of the world, lots of people feel alone and isolated so exploring this theme in a musical and relating it to being like a toy is very powerful! There is a lot of strong language in this song which means that it’s not suitable for a younger audience. The song “Merry Christmas for today” talks about how the character feels only needed for specific purposes. This song is delivered by an almost ‘elf on the shelf’ style character who performed a very rapid rap/spoken word song. This role was performed by Hanna Bielowa who made to make every single word crisp and understandable while still managing to portray the emotion of the song. The song “special” is a very emotionally powerful song that takes about how the character does not feel ‘special’ anymore. The lyric “there was a time when everyone was my friend” is so emotionally loaded which brings this human side to the toy character which is amazing. This song also contains a sneaky reference to the song “on my own” from Les miserable with a very similar musical motif being used during the song.
Overall, this could be considered as a mature version of toy story which explored the ideas of loneliness and isolation which is important now more than ever. It is a show for an older audience due to the strong language but also provides a nostalgic nod to the toys the generation grew up with. If this show sounds like something you would be interested in they have produced a 47-minute long premier where the performers sing the songs which is available at https://youtu.be/B4Qfa8BB_sU. I do hope that a live version of the show (when produced) has fantastic consumes that labels which character is trying to represent which you. I would rate this show 4 out of 5 stars and do not doubt that when everything is back to normal the show will grow from strength to strength!