Almost two years ago I started this blog to promote new and emerging musicals from all over the world. My main purpose for this blog was to raise awareness of the show so that people who read my blog could discover a new favourite show which can only benefit the theatre creatives behind the project! What I did not expect however was how much I would learn about key historic characters and events that I would have otherwise never known about. One particularly shocking revelation for me personally was learning about the Merthyr rising riots, where two dozen people were killed, through the musical My Lands Shore (my review of which can be found at https://rhysreviews.com/2020/11/09/my-lands-shore-soundtrack-review/ and my interview with the creator of the show is available at https://youtu.be/KVA4MTVpP6w .) Imagine spending my whole life growing up in Wales but having no idea of this horrific event so it was really important to learn about the history of my own culture! If you have been following my blogs for a while you will be aware that I love a spectacular style musical but it is the intersection of where entertaining musical theatre crosses with pieces of education that highlight the importance of theatre for me! Despite having heard of the ‘Manhattan Project’ I never really knew what it is was and so to review a show that is based on this event I had to do some research!
The Manhattan Project was a government Dundee’s program consisting of the top scientists who were given the task of creator the first-ever Atomic Bomb. Now I know what your thinking … this is a controversial topic for a musical and if the musical was the classic cheesy, over the topic musical theatre style it would be disrespectful to damages that occurred due to the events of this project! Appropriately, this is a rock musical and so the majority of the music in this recording are in this style with an almost power behind them. The other thing to keep in mind is the fact that this is a compilation which would suggest that the numbers in this album do not appear in the order they do within the show and may only show a sample of the songs you would see in a live performance. I’m not going to give too much away but if this is just a sample then I can’t wait to see if I will ever get an opportunity to see the full production!
The first track on this recording is the song “the atom bomb is here” which to me is a fantastic opening number as it introduces the story perfectly. The song itself is very chaotic and builds the energy and tension you would anticipate from a musical about this real-world event. I’m not sure if this is the opening number in the musical but this song contains all the qualities that a good opening track should possess! The song “headlights” was a lot more emotional than I would have anticipated from a rock musical due to the connections of the genre itself. This track was flawlessly performed by a very talented vocalist with the powerful emotions explored travelling from the performer directly to the ears (and hearts) of the listeners. Another very emotional song in this recording was “where is home” which was a beautiful duet where the two voices worked flawlessly together to deliver another emotional performance that tugged on every single of the old heartstrings! One of my favourite numbers in this recording was “atom smasher” which talks about having to freak to drown the sorrows scientist face during these intense academic programmes. This number is a very sensual jazz-influenced song that I could imagine being staged in an underground bar with dancers serving you drinks.
After getting over the emotional journey of this rock musical, the last thing I would expect was a kooky chorus style number. The track “holes in the doughnuts” is a much more comical song that gives off very similar vibes to the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy song. This song may be only two minutes long but it breaks up the other very powerful tracks in this musical in the recording comes at the perfect time to not overwhelm the listeners which are fantastic! The song “greater battle” talks about the after-effects of inventing a device that (looking back from modern-day) has caused so much destruction. The character talks about the mental issues that the creators have faced but is told through a very classic musical theatre vibe. The track “What I tell myself” further explores this theme by discussing how the characters are forced to rationalise what it is they have done and justify their actions to eradicate any guilt. This is a very unique theme that I have not seen in many musicals and any piece of media that discusses mental health can only benefit those who listen to it!
Overall, this is a musical that appropriately explores a potentially controversial event while being educational but also exploring the mental state of all those involved. This is a much more serious and intense musical that is suitable for an older audience and while a younger audience would enjoy it they miss the modern-day perspective on this life-altering project. I would rate this show 4.5 stars out of 5!