Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: TITLE OF SHOW, London Coliseum

This streamed production is a love letter to musical theatre

Review: TITLE OF SHOW, London Coliseum Review: TITLE OF SHOW, London Coliseum

Not since the Landor production in 2013 has the UK seen a professional production of [Title of Show], the self-referential musical by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell about two struggling writers in New York who decided to write an original musical for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. But joyfully, Lambert Jackson Productions has bought it back to the British masses and assembled a superb cast directed by Josh Seymour.

Filmed and edited at the Coliseum's Chorus Rehearsal room with an ensemble cast of four (plus Larry...), this minimalist, socially distanced performance doesn't feel wanting. As per the show's credo, "Why can't four chairs and a piano make a Broadway show?". And why not indeed.

Naming their two lead characters after themselves is just the tipping point of the level of meta that Bowen and Bell achieve here. Packed with knowing references to the creative process, [Title of Show] is a tongue-in-cheek love letter to the art of the musical.

As Jeff and Hunter recruit their pals Susan and Heidi to help them with their ambitious project, Jeff asks Heidi how her Mamma Mia! audition went, and Heidi responds causally "Oh, it was just for a replacement/understudy/ensemble/off-stage/singer/dance captain/assistant stage manager track...". When you know, you know.

There's a lot of shade thrown at specific musical genres and musicals themselves, but it feels affectionate rather than cruel. Even Chess doesn't escape - although I suspect that its main fault was being unfortunate enough to rhyme with "mess".

Tyrone Huntley as Hunter is a Type A personality, obsessed with detail and plagued with self-doubt. His writing partner Jeff - played to perfection by Marc Elliot - is similarly insecure...except when he's taking his top off.

Lucie Jones is the charmingly irritating Heidi, a wannabe Broadway starlet with an impressive belt and penchant for riffing. She's the perfect antidote to Jenna Russell's sassy Susan - imagine a downtown Moira Rose, but with more swearing. And if you can find anything funnier than her interpretation of "the broken doll" pose during a photoshoot, I will give you a trillion pounds.

The score is a blend of up-tempo, laugh-out-loud earworms. "Die Vampire Die" is a highlight, and Jones belts out a stonking rendition of "A Way back to Then", but for some reason the intentionally repetitive "Filling out the Form" is the one I am still humming.

The limitations of a show with a book so deeply rooted in parody is that its appeal will always resonate with quite a niche audience. Fringe theatre would be the perfect vehicle for this, and I'd have loved to have seen it in the Turbine Theatre or Southwark Playhouse. But, alas, until normality resumes, this online production was a welcome reminder of why I adore musicals and the people that create them. Full of passion, drama, sensitivity, humour - and a whole lotta sass.

[Title of Show] is running until November 14 and tickets can be purchased here

TodayTix

Related Stories

From This Author - Caroline Cronin

Caroline has over seven years' experience as a theatre journalist, spanning three different publications. Now an established member of the BroadwayWorld team, Caroline specialises in musical th... (read more about this author)


BWW Review: ZORRO THE MUSICAL, Charing Cross TheatreBWW Review: ZORRO THE MUSICAL, Charing Cross Theatre
April 13, 2022

Zorro the Musical has lived many lives before its latest engagement at the Charing Cross Theatre. From the West End Production of 2008-09 to this production’s first outing at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, which was cruelly cut short just two previews in by the pandemic. It bursts into its new home with fiery abandon.

BWW Review: BROKEN WINGS, Charing Cross TheatreBWW Review: BROKEN WINGS, Charing Cross Theatre
February 17, 2022

I’m not sure I was prepared for what I witnessed as I sat in the round of the Charing Cross Theatre, awaiting the overture for Broken Wings which I’d heard so much buzz about. An adaptation of a poetic novel by Gibran Khalil Gibran, Broken Wings is pitched by Director Bronagh Lagan as being a “tale of first love, loss and identity”.

BWW Interview: Gerard Carey and Josefina Gabrielle Talk LES MISERABLESBWW Interview: Gerard Carey and Josefina Gabrielle Talk LES MISERABLES
February 15, 2022

Having joined the cast of Les Misérables at the newly refurbished Sondheim Theatre back in December 2019, Gerard Carey and Josefina Gabrielle have had quite the rollercoaster experience as everyone's favourite rogues, the Thénardiers. Between them, their list of theatre credits is impressive and despite having never met prior to the show, Carey and Gabrielle have united to create a strong partnership throughout multiple lockdowns and two different productions.

BWW Review: THE NATIONAL LOTTERY'S BIG NIGHT OF MUSICALS, BBC1BWW Review: THE NATIONAL LOTTERY'S BIG NIGHT OF MUSICALS, BBC1
January 31, 2022

Finally – a major theatrical event in a prime-time slot on a Saturday night. Not since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s array of reality shows have we seen musical theatre put front and centre on a mainstream channel, and after years of The Olivier Awards broadcast being relegated to a truncated late night Sunday slot, this feels like a long time coming. And all the more poignant after the rough ride the industry has had these past two years.

BWW Review: HEATHERS THE MUSICAL, The Other PalaceBWW Review: HEATHERS THE MUSICAL, The Other Palace
December 2, 2021

As the first show out of the gate at The Other Palace since the pandemic, and the first show housed there since the venue was bought by Bill Kenwright, Heathers the Musical has a lot of attention to shoulder. Not only has it returned to its original home but it’s also got a brand new cast to boot – and reader…they are on fire.