Review: SUPERYOU, Lyric Theatre

Showcase event for musical in development delivers emotions and energy

By: Nov. 17, 2023
Review: SUPERYOU, Lyric Theatre

Review: SUPERYOU, Lyric Theatre Like many a nascent musical these days, SuperYou started in gig-style events that led to a buzz online, with legions of fans downloading songs. The pandemic underpinned this route to gestation, as so much went online that MT fans sought out and shared new clips all the time, eagerly seeking out the early signs of the Next Big Show. The following stage is often a concert performance and, with the Lyric Theatre available, why not have one on Shaftesbury Avenue no less?

An answer to that question can wait until later, but, for now, let’s celebrate the optimism that underpins everything Lourds Lane (book, music, lyrics, violin and Rise in the show) does, beaming her positive, ‘can-do’ attitude all the way from the USA to the UK. Seldom can a show have enjoyed a less ambiguous title - you are indeed super, as you’re told relentlessly, and there’s no question that it went down well on this West End showcase night.

We open on a brother and sister bickering, but there’s love there and talent too, both drawing comic book characters and inventing stories, unafraid to dream big. But home life is tough and school isn’t much better, Katie and friends bullied by the mean girls. She fights back by inventing a world in which her gang have superpowers, drawing them in that narrowish space between The Spice Girls and Six’s queens. Led by her own alter-ego, Lightning Girl, they go out to take on the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (and there are plenty) but they believe in themselves and they win through.

Review: SUPERYOU, Lyric Theatre

The best element of the show as it stands are the songs. Delving into both rock and pop via a bit of soul, country, rap and, wait for it, yodeling, many comfortably earn the soubriquet anthemic, with Lucie Jones nailing her 11 o’clock number to rapturous applause. The problem is one of tone and narrative drive - song after song builds to a climax and, over a 90 minute first half, one feels battered by the sheer power of the power ballads, peak after peak eventually flattening our response. A little light and shade may be required in future development and we may not need to be told quite so frequently about a character’s low self-esteem in one song and how she has got it back in the next.

The singing is very good and very committed, pouring on the emotions, but, as rock songs often present first time, it’s a little tricky to discern the words, drum, bass and guitar amplified and lyrics sung loud and fast. With only some stock photos of bedrooms and offices back-projected standing in as a set and no costume changes, following the story is almost wholly dependent on hearing the songs clearly and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in finding that tough.

The tale is a little lacklustre: good girl meets boy; boy meets bad girl who turns his head with promises of fame and money; good girl wins boy back. It doesn’t quite add up, since Lucie Jones’ Katie is far too passive in losing him (twice!) and Luke Brady’s Jay is far too insensitive in walking out on her (twice). Their characters before and after those trysts are just too far removed from the ones mid-affair.  

Other characters tend to present themselves with very explicit explanations of their incipient neuroses and how they have overcome their challenges. Katie’s Mom never quite gets past the bottle, but she’s so underwritten that it’s hard for us to see past the bottle too.

So, as it stands, some key components of a successful musical are in place: a fine score, needing a little more variety; an engaging, if too simplistic, book that will appeal strongly to a young female demographic; and singers who can fill an auditorium with energy and emotion. But a little less browbeating in messaging and a little more nuance in character building is required before SuperYou achieves that elusive superness that defines the best of musical theatre. 

Keep up with SuperYou here

Photos: Matt Martin and Simona Sermont


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