BWW Reviews: COUGAR THE MUSICAL, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, May 19 2015

BWW Reviews: COUGAR THE MUSICAL, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, May 19 2015

I've just seen a news headline saying that a cougar has been seen loose around town. Turned out it was referring to a town in California and not the stars of Cougar the Musical which has just opened at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry for its UK premiere, following two very successful years playing Off-Broadway.

A four-hander, the show celebrates the more mature woman and features three women who release their "inner cougar" and date younger men - the said men are played by one incredibly charismatic actor whom may stir up a hot flush or two! Lily is a recent divorcee with two grown up daughters who at first dismisses the idea of being a desirable older woman, Mary-Marie owns a cougar bar and is very self-assured and Clarity is writing a thesis on the said cougars before discovering her own status as one. The women discover themselves over the course of the two hour show and learn to embrace love and liberation.

Writer Donna Moore has created an extremely witty script, very much written for the target audience. Musically, the composition isn't the show's best feature although we are transported through different eras and genres of music. With only keys and drums, it is quite a toned down sound but in the Belgrade's B2 space, this is enough. Patricia Benecke, the theatre's Creative Associate, has done a more than competent job in directing for thrust, the blocking is ever moving but is fluid and has purpose. The choreography by Racky Plews is high-spirited and sassy without being too much. Juliet Shillingford's set is versatile and creates various different settings including a bar and nail salon with a series of hung flats that are projected onto. Arnim Friess' lighting captures the essence of the piece and his video design definitely adds an extra something to the visuals.

All three women (Suanne Braun, Pippa Winslow and Dawn Hope) are hugely strong actors and are extremely sassy. Sometimes vocally they weren't as proficient in their higher registers but their characterisations are superb and they seemed to be having a great deal of fun on stage. Barnaby Hughes plays six characters all in all including Eve, the nail technician! He is most certainly the eye candy of the piece from a shallow perspective but ultimately he too is a brilliant actor and vocally he has a stunning tenor voice.

Two hours of pure satisfaction and a good night out with plenty of laughs.

Cougar the Musical plays at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until Saturday 6 June 2015.

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From This Author Jenny Antill

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