If you follow us on social media, you will know that as well as writing reviews of new musicals from all over the world we write about Netflix original series for a site called Nerdly. One of the greatest shows that we have watched as a part of this position was the Good Place which stars Kristen Bell. The show tells the story of Eleanor Shellstrop who despite living a morally corrupt life on Earth somehow ends up in ‘the good place’ and so decides to surprise her past in order to remain in this heaven life place. Eleanor encounters many people on her journey to solving this sense of mistaken identity, who all appear much more morally just and right but after a while we learn that we should judge people on their external appearances. This show discusses the very controversial issue of morality and shows how there is no such thing as a good or bad person! If you haven’t watched this show already, I strongly recommend how you give it a watch as while exploring the very complex theme it is also extremely entertaining/dramatic and at times fantastical which makes for a very good watch. You can read out full thoughts of the latest season of this show on Nerdly’s website at https://www.nerdly.co.uk/2020/02/21/the-good-place-season-4-review/!
Just over a month ago, we were sent a preview recording of a brand new musical called Holy Cow. The following tells the story of Markys Brooks who is experiencing a crisis of faith while supporting the barely successful local baseball team the holy cows! If this sounds interesting, then you can read my post on the show at https://rhysreviews.com/2021/07/19/holy-cow-demo-recording-review/ After I had posted the review of this show, I was contacted by the creatives behind the project to promote one of their other musical projects called StandBy. StandBy is a new musical that tells the story of five strangers who magically arrive in an airport however there are only two seats available. Throughout the show, it is revealed that the airport is a metaphorical location and instead is a representation of a purgatory-like facility. For those who are not family with this term, it is a religious, usually Catholic, term for the middle ground between heaven and hell where people work off their sins to get into the good place after a while. After they start to plead their case they realise that their lives are more connected than they originally believed and they need to work on the ideas of forgiveness to move on from this fictional location.
While the idea of randomised strangers realising they are more connected to one another while trying to earn a place in heaven sounds like it could be extremely cringy and cheesy, the way this show has been crafted is in a very honest and serious way while dealing with some very intense issues. The music in this recording a very rock inspired which is not usually something that interests me but I did find that the genre fitted well with the story. The song ‘forward motion’ is a very uplifting and powerful number that was flawlessly performed by two very talented vocalists. Darren Ritchie and Matt Shingledecker (who play Richard and Johnathan respectively) are talented performers with their voices working flawlessly together. The character of Peter (played by Dwelvan David in this recording) also functions as a compare/MC of the show and to me was a very interesting mix of Beetlejuice from the film of the same name and the Genie from Aladdin. Dwelvan possess a wonderfully soulful and powerful voice that injects energy into any song that he is a part of! The song the last goodbye was one of the most emotionally powerful songs that I have heard in a very long time. The song tells the story of Andrew and Richard (played by Alex Goley and Darren Ritchie) who have both ended up taking their own lives before they ended up in this ‘airport.’ I am not scared to admit that this song brought me to floods of tears due to how powerful and real the performance was with the two performers again working very well together. Due to the references to suicide, the overall metaphysical themes of the show and the morality issues it addresses this is a show for an older teenage audience who are looking for musicals that are not the over-the-top, cheesy spectacles we have come to expect from this genre.
Overall this is an intense rock-inspired musical that has discovered a way to portray the complex metaphysical story in a very clear and understandable way. It deals with some very important issues that are as relevant today as they ever were/will be. I would rate this show 5 out of 5 stars!
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