Vanities, Trafalgar Studios | Review

Thursday 8 September 2016

Vanities: The Musical
Trafalgar Studios
Reviewed on Wednesday 7th August 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Vanities is a musical adaptation of Jack Heifner's play with a script by Heifner himself and lyrics/music by David Kirshenbaum. Its London premiere at Trafalgar Studios is certainly a triumphant one, with radiant performances from all three ladies and extremely catchy and refreshing music. Set in the 70s one would assume the themes of the musical could be dated but in fact the plight for happiness, friendship and success are just as prevalent now.

We first meet Joanne, Kathy and Mary when they're young, optimistic cheerleaders at a Dallas high school at the start of the 60s. They all have different dreams and goals but share the common belief that their friendship is a bond which will never be broken. We continue to follow them as they go to college, living together in their sorority house all the way to adulthood. As we follow their journeys we see the optimism diminish as the trials of tribulations of life affecting their friendship.

The storyline doesn't have the drama of some shows and its more like following episodes of a soap opera but it really does manage to conjure emotions and one really becomes attached to the characters and their transformations.

Lauren Samuels plays Mary, a free spirited cynic who wants to escape her small town life; Lizzy Connolly is Joanne, the stereotypical all-American girl who aspires for the picket fenced house filled with her, a husband and lots of children; and Ashleigh Gray plays Kathy, a boderline OCD organiser who is the classic example of giving out great advice but never taking it yourself.

Kirshenbaum's memorable score combines big ballads with 60s-esque pop songs all of which are performed fantastically by the three fab ladies. Andrew Riley's set and costume design work perfectly to create a beautiful flowing story. The 'changing rooms' are cleverly used to show the changes in the girls lives and the passing of time.  

Ultimately Vanities is a celebration of friendship and love. It shows that even when relationships hit bumps and get bruised, they can be salvaged and rebuilt if enough mutual love is there. The outstanding cast perform every scene brilliantly, with well thought out actions during moments of both humour and sadness. The cast and crew have managed to create a refreshing show which can't help but leave a smile on your face. This is a truly unique and touching production.

Vanities: The Musical runs at the Trafalgar Studios until October 1st

Photographs by Pamela Raith

*Rewrite This Story received a press ticket for this shows. All views and opinions are our own*