We want to start this blog post by wishing every one of our followers a fabulous new year! While we are very excited to see what 2023 would bring, it’s also very important that we reflect on the year that we all have just gone through. We spent the first few months of 2022 marching back and forth from medical centres for a plethora of vaccinations, brandishing a COVID pass to get into our favourite spaces and having to wear masks in many public spaces! One of the only good things to come out of the lockdown provisions was the emergence of an eventual fine-tuning of virtual theatre which allowed theatre creators to showcase things they usually would not have been able to do in front of a live audience. We were one of the few people who actually really enjoyed the innovative approaches to online theatre as it reduces time wasted watching scene changes from the audience perspective, unique camera angles and invited a much greater involvement of the audience themselves. Once the theatres were finally reopened after two painfully long years of waiting, however, people (rightfully) flooded back leaving this online medium in the dust! This is why we were very excited to hear about the brand new musical Luna that would be a pre-recorded theatrical experience that viewers could enjoy from the comfort of their own homes!
This brand new musical comes from the wonderful team behind spinning rock productions (who you can learn more about at https://www.spinningrockprods.com) who like many people were devastated when the pandemic closed many theatres which may be one reason they have created a new show that would have fitted perfectly in the influx of virtual theatre during the global lockdowns! As a random aside, If you are interested in supporting Spinning Rock productions they have created an incredible card game that is all about one hundred musicals every theatre nerd should know (which is available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XWMLYTV?tag=wixlabs1234-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1) which would be a perfect gift for any musically obsessed person in your life! The creative team behind this project have clearly used the online format of the show to streamline scene changes from the audience’s perspective making it seem like a smooth and instant process when, from experience, I know this is not the case in real life! The show itself does contain a scattering of strong language, sexual references and depictions of alcohol usage meaning that it is clearly a show for a more mature audience but the contemporary style and generally youthful cast makes it perfect for an older teenage audience (I personally suggest at least 16+)
I personally found it very interesting to learn that ‘Luna the musical’ began its life as a contemporary musical adaptation of the hit 2007 movie Juno staring Eliot Page but when the news broke of the terrible overruling of the Roe vs Wade case in America was announced, they knew this had to be a central theme in the new show! The show itself opens with the audience learning that despite being only sixteen, Luna (played by the wonderful Jhanaica Mook) has found herself pregnant and expecting a baby. But due to the controversial ruling, she is forced to continue with the pregnancy and give birth to the baby despite not being mature enough the look after herself never mind a tiny human. From my very limited acting experience, I know that it is very difficult to capture a portray an accurate teenage character due to the wild array of emotions they feel every single day. However, Jhanaica did not seem to flinch at this role while Chapter the optimistic nature of the character while dealing with the extremely serious consequences of having a baby at such a young age. The performance of “the kind of girl” towards the beginning of this show was not only beautiful to listen to (due to the incredible vocal styling of Jhanaica) but also matched the character beautifully which allowed the audience to understand the complex character on stage!
One of my favourite castings in this brand new musical would have to be the talented Gareth Tilley as the single father of Luna. During the number “don’t say it” Luna tells her father of the pregnancy but her dad talks about how he would rather figure it out himself as this would make it easier for him to digest what is going on. Gareth manages to portray the supportive yet over-his-head, fun dad wonderfully creating a great connection between himself and his on-stage daughter. One of my greatest numbers throughout the entire show would have to be the duet between The pairing of Gareth and Jhanaica during the song titled “thick and thin” where the two voices worked flawlessly together to deliver an incredibly moving performances. My favourite number in this show would have to be the duet between Luna and Eugene (played by the amazing James Sillman) called “recording 37 ” The number began with James playing the guitar live (which must have been incredibly nerve-wracking) but he did not seem afraid in the slightest! This adorable realistic love song talked about how neither of them are perfect but they are perfect for each other, only for this to be ripped apart in the closing moments of the song. I also very loved the performance of “maybe” by Hannah Levine who delivered a very powerful rendition of the song that talked about the stress of motherhood. This fear of children inheriting the negative traits of parents is not something that is explored in musical theatre frequently so including this idea is very important! While no one in my high school was pregnant, I can imagine the sorts of comments they would get from their fellow students as time progressed. The huge ensemble, fancy heavy number “this is what you get” was a very clever depiction of these sorts of thoughts and ideas. The very harsh and cutting comments delivered through this high energy, heavily choreographed number was a beautiful contrast that is a credit to whoever created it!
Overall, Luna, the musical is an extremely relatable and accessible show that builds on modern/contemporary issues we are still facing today. The themes, cast and storylines all work together beautifully to pinpoint and target their intended audience which is amazing to see! As this is an online production, the focus is on the production value and audience experience which is one of the greatest I have seen in a long time! I would rate this show 5 out of 5 stars!