MUSICAL REVIEW: Bend It Like Beckham ★★★

Bend It Like Beckham
Thursday 3rd March 2015
Phoenix Theatre, London

In 2002, a film about a 18 year old indian girl called Jesminder ‘Jess’ Bhamra, who aspired to David Beckham and so wanted to be a footballer, was released and received rave reviews from all critics, and took $32 million in box office revenues. One year later, 2003, the film’s writer and director Gurinder Chadha planned to turn it into a stage musical, but it was only in 2011 when the script was complete and a composer was being looking for that the development soon took off. In May 2015, the show opened to its West End and World Premiere at The Phoenix Theatre in London, and on March 3rd 2016, 2 days before the show closed at the West End, I was lucky enough to get a ticket and watch a musical which I can say I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.

Starring Natalie Drew in the title role of Jess, it follows the aspiring footballer who meets Jules (Lauren Samuels), a girl from the woman football team, who invites Jess to try outs, to which she successfully gets into the team, but although everything is looking up for Jess, she has the choice not only between weather to continue football against her family's wishes, but also if she should have a romantic relationship with her coach Joe (Jamie Muscato), who Jules, her now new best friend, is also smitten with. I must say that I absolutely loved this show from start to finish, because it took the whole premise from the film and conveyed it brilliantly on stage - the music was so catchy that it had me foot tapping during the whole production, but also the storyline and acting was was convincing also.

The set was also incredibly clever, and I loved how the bedrooms were suspended in the air coming out of the wings, making it extremely smooth, but also the moving slabs at the back of the stage to convey the different settings was also very creative also. It was a real buzz to see professional Bollywood dancing and singing on stage also, as this was something I had never seen before, and also despite a few timing issues, the way the ball was used throughout the performance was clever and inventive.

It is a shame that the production did not run as long as many would have properly expected, as I would have recommended it to everyone, but rest assured if it was to ever return or tour the world, this would definitely be a show not to be missed, a truly brilliant show from start to finish!


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