A bonkers new bird musical with added dinosaur action.
This quackers new musical from Robert J Sherman is about a bunch of birds who perform in a musical revue. There are parrots, penguins, a cracker-addicted macaw and, er, a dinosaur who runs the whole shebang.
Quite what a prehistoric beast is doing with a load of feathered friends is left unexplained. But though he’s got millions of years of wisdom behind him (apparently he is that old), that doesn’t stop the fact that he’s having trouble with his temperamental lead bird Baalthazar Macaw (played by Greg Castiglioni) who quits and leaves the show. Luckily a bunch of Brit barbershop penguins turn-up to help make the music continue. But Baalthazar returns and tries to sex-up the family show, ruffles some feathers, gets ousted as a closet cracker junky and then everyone lives happily ever after.
A plausible plot is not this show’s strong point. The decision to make the show about birds feels arbitrary, the dinosaur is just plain odd and the story rushes through the action, sacrificing character and story development in favour of cheesy one-liners. ‘Love Birds’ feels as though it has been crammed into its 60 minute run time. What’s more, though this is billed as a family musical, it sits oddly between adult and kid show – most of the jokes are for the parents because kids probably won’t be able to keep up with the innuendo.
But Sherman’s songs are exceptionally well executed by a great cast, and there's a star turn from Castiglioni who quite clearly enjoys shaking his tail feathers. There’s excellent ensemble work too from the penguins – George Knapper, Johnny Purchase, Rafe Watts and Ryan Willis – who waddle about the stage and whose numbers lift the piece.
You also won’t find new musical songs like these anywhere else on the fringe – Sherman’s tunes, though not immediately catchy – are tight and funny. The show doesn’t scrimp on production values either and the fluorescent-coloured costumes genuinely are a sight to behold. If there’s one thing for certain, it’s that this show’s no ugly duckling.