Miss Nightingale: The Musical

Theatre, Off-West End Hippodrome Live , Covent Garden Until Sunday May 6 2018
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 (© Robert Workman)
1/5
© Robert Workman Nicholas Coutu-Langmead, Tamar Broadbent & Conor O'Kane
 (© Robert Workman)
2/5
© Robert Workman Conor O'Kane & Matthew Bugg
 (© Robert Workman)
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© Robert Workman Nicholas Coutu-Langmead & Conor O'Kane
 (© Robert Workman)
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© Robert Workman Tamar Broadbent
 (© Robert Workman)
5/5
© Robert Workman Tamar Broadbent

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This diverting cabaret-style musical is a story of gay love and wartime showbiz

'Miss Nightingale' transfers to London Hippodrome in March 2018. This review is from 2017.

A bunker-like auditorium in The Vaults – the multi-performance space created out of the network of tunnels under Waterloo Station – is an atmospherically subterranean location for this Blitz-set new musical. It’s steeped in an almost reverent nostalgia for the music hall, with the cast playing instruments as well as characters.

Writer and director Matthew Bugg’s production is awash with charm, as it dips into the culture of wartime musical revue. From ‘Let Me Play on Your Pipe’ to ‘The Sausage Song’, the tunes have an authentic sense of innocent cheek. Their playful innuendoes are what ‘saucy’ was coined for.   

The effect is completed by designer Carla Goodman’s lightbulb-ringed proscenium arch, through which the titular Miss Nightingale – the stage name of no-nonsense Northerner Maggie Brown – entertains, while her closeted manager, Frank, and her best friend, George, try to keep their relationship under wraps.

Conor O’Kane relishes every eye-roll as Jewish-Polish immigrant, George, and Nicholas Coutu-Langmead stiffens his upper lip admirably as posh boy Frank. Tamar Broadbent, meanwhile, gives Maggie grit and vulnerability, while beautifully pitching her showstoppers.

But the show’s wholesale buying into a bygone era also results in a soft-focus, old-fashioned feel, flattening out the dramatic stakes of George’s tragic backstory and the edginess of the first song, ‘Cruising’. The murmuring lyrics and languorous awakening of instruments, pulsing in time to the men’s first encounter, leads only to chaste kisses.

Bugg (who clearly knows his history) packs his script with grim background details, such as the mass arrests of gay men as ‘enemy spies’, but in tone and temperament, his characters feel like they’re from a ’40s film. They might do and say things uncensored, but a working-class guy is still the blackmailer.

‘Miss Nightingale’ began life a few years ago as a chamber piece and there’s a sense of bloating now, of a few too many songs that – while buckets of fun – don’t add much to the plot. There are times when it seems caught between the story it’s telling and being an actual music hall revue.

By: Tom Wicker

Posted:

Venue name: Hippodrome Live
Contact:
Address: The Hippodrome Casino
1 Cranbourn St
London
WC2H 7JH
Price: £25, £23 concs
Event phone: 08448 733 433
Event website: http://missnightingale.co.uk
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com
    • Hippodrome Live £25, £23 concs
    • Hippodrome Live £25, £23 concs
    • Hippodrome Live £25, £23 concs
    • Hippodrome Live £25, £23 concs
    • Hippodrome Live £25, £23 concs

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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LiveReviews|17
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Fantastic seating, delicious cocktails and delightful music


The show takes place during WWII and tackles many issues facing England at the time, both abroad and on its own shores. The cast was full of energy and really brought the characters to life. I went in expecting slapstick comedy and left pleasantly surprised with the many different turns the plot took.


While I enjoyed the music, towards the end I found myself wondering if some of the earlier songs could have been cut. 


If you're near the Hippodrome Casino, and prefer a show-tune to a slot pull, I would definitely recommend a cocktail at the Lounge-like theatre as you enjoy Miss Nightingale.

tastemaker

The set up for Miss Nightingale at The Hippodrome was fab and you really felt you were transported to 1940s Britain.  I also thought the musical talent was amazing - the cast played multiple instruments throughout and it was cleverly done.  I liked the story line mostly, but it was just a bit too cheesy and a bit too long for me - it could easily be cut by at least 30mins.

Tastemaker

I had a roaring good time with Ms Nightingale.


Set in 1942 during World War II, Ms Nightingale is about a Northern lass' journey to making it big  London's West End stage. The real hook is the sub-plots of secrecy and blackmail that happens behind the scenes that make Ms Nightingale gripping.


But it's not all serious despite the sub-plots. Ms Nightingale is sprinkled with a good amount of humour (adult humour at that) and catchy tunes made memorable for its slightly raunchy lyrics and innuendos. I love that stuff.


What I love most are the set and actors. Ms Nightingale is an absolute star and not only do the actors perform their part, they also play the instrument that makes up the music when their colleagues are playing theirs. They are seriously talented. And being set in such 1942 gives a bit of vintage glam. 


Located in the heady setting of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square, Ms Nightingale is unlike any theatre show I've seen so, if you've seen all the usual suspects and looking for something different, then Ms Nightngale is what's you're looking for.

tastemaker

Let me start off by saying, this was a really fun night. Amazing venue. Stage was fascinating (set up as though you were in a classy nightclub in London during WWII), actors were walking around in full character pouring champagne... very fun.


I think this would be a great show to see for people who like musicals (and like trying out new musicals) or people who are very into WWII and the social happenings of that time. The songs weren't timeless, but the actors were very good. There was a lot of energy but not over the top emotions.


Thoroughly enjoyed this night out. 

tastemaker

A musical in the West End – but not what I would call a ‘West End Musical’. While light-hearted, and funny in parts, Miss Nightingale still has a little way to go before it lives up to the reputation of a true West End Musical.


On arrival at the venue, we entered through a flashy casino and onto the smaller theatre venue upstairs. The casino was an impressive venue – but in fact I think Miss Nightingale would be better suited to a small, speakeasy type venue like the Vaults where it started out.


The theatre itself was pretty cold and had me reaching for my jacket throughout the performance. Plus, the small stage (and being seated towards one side of it) meant there were some very visible and clunky scene changes (at one point of the actors almost tripped off the side of the stage!)


I was impressed by the attempts to set the scene – including the actors who worked the room before the show. I also liked the seating arrangements, as it felt more like we were in a cabaret venue.


Some of the actors performances were a little underwhelming – many of the jokes seemed to fall flat (especially in the first half of the show) and some of the acting was particularly hammy. However, kudos must go to  Matthew Floyd Jones for his stand out performance as George – his rendition of Meine Liebe Berlin left me with goosebumps.


The second half of the show did show some improvement – I was particularly impressed by Maggie’s recovery after her glasses broke and flew across the stage. I also felt that, whilst the show tried to touch on series subjects, ultimately it was too light-hearted to explore this issues deeply. I think part of the problem here is it also felt like there were too many songs for the length of the show, and at points these distracted from the plot.


Overall, while fun and uplifting in parts, Miss Nightingale still has room for improvement.

tastemaker

Glitz, glam and cabaret during a depressing time, Miss Nightingale tries to find the happiness in the darkest of times.The cast were all extremely multi-talented playing instruments very well as well as singing and dancing. I loved the intimacy of theatre as it was set up like a restaurant, dining tables and booths as they would've been back in the day. The plot was simple but heart-wrenching, if a little bit stretched. That being said, the show was fun, had me tapping my feet and it was a good night out in a lovely setting. 

Tastemaker

Quite an intimate setting for a very enjoyable musical. The cast were very talented and the entire production consisted only of a handful of actors. The songs were catchy and the plot was intriguing, although I did find it dragged at times slightly. The show is made by the wonderful George who keeps it upbeat at all times and is very funny! very enjoyable evening however the air conditioning in the theatre (which seemed to be on full blast) made it a slightly chilly experience!


Cabaret, fun, cocktails, laughter - an unexpected show that blew my mind! The lead actors were brilliant and I couldn’t recommend this more, what a show!!!!

tastemaker

A surprisingly enjoyable show and yes, “joyous” as claimed in their tagline. It leans more towards cabaret than a musical, but the show is good value and entertainment. Set in the theatre inside the Hippodrome Casino, we were led to our table inches from the stage. The intimate setting brings you even closer to the small, but multi-talented cast of 6. Apart from Matthew Bugg who not only wrote and directed the show, the 6 cast members played all the live instruments that included a cello, flute and trombone!

The highlights of the snow were the outrageously funny “Pussy” and “Sausage” songs. The story however is a bit predictable and the music doesn’t always shine, but the enthusiasm of the cast makes this a fun evening out.

tastemaker

I watched the show last night and was unexpectedly charmed.  The show is about a nurse turned showgirl in the 1940s during the second world war. We were seated right at the front with a glass of champagne making the experience quite suave. I wouldn't say the Hippodrome Casino was the most friendly setting, however the show itself was brilliant. 


Despite being two and a half hours long, the story line was really nicely strung together with a range of musical numbers that kept the us hooked. A number of socio-political elements were interestingly embedded into story line. Nevertheless, the entire tone of the musical was light and enjoyable. The emotional moments were nicely mixed in between fun jazz numbers. My personal favourite numbers was a number , called ‘Meine Liebe Berlin’ , sung by Matther Floyd Jones ( plays a homosexual Polish-Jewish refugee) . His performance was particularly memorable. I would highly recommend the show purely based on his performance.


tastemaker

Having walked through the casino, we found ourselves in a much smaller, 180 seat theatre area. Despite tables and chairs being squashed together, the actors managed to walk betweeen us at times. All six are talented. All can sing (some very well), dance and play assorted instruments. This production, set in London 1942,has an almost music hall feel but there is a poignant story being told; two homosexual men, one Polish Jewish the other English, meet, work together and fall in love. It should have been an easy love story but of course in 1942 nothing was easy - not being Jewish and not being homosexual. Their mutual friend, Maggie Brown (Lauren Chinery), has a strong voice but in terms of acting, didn't seem to hit it for me.

The two principal male actors, Matthew Floyd Jones and Oliver Mawdsley were, however, spot on. Some of the songs were clever with delightful harmonies: some were very cheeky but none were memorable. With nineteen songs in total, I could probably have done with two or three fewer. The feel of the performance was quite different to that of a large theatre. It felt as if little money had been spent on the production and, although well above amateur status, it needed a little polishing round the edges.

Tastemaker

I was actually expecting a big budget musical where I would be sitting very far away but was surprised when we were welcomed into a more intimate speak-easy kind of setting sitting at tables very close to the small stage where a drumkit, a curtained platform and a piano took centre stage. The play, about a showgirl getting her big break and the relationships she has with her agent, her best friend who's Polish and the show owner (both of them are homosexual) tells the story of her rise to fame and the fear her friend and boss feel when they try to keep their relationship a secret for fear of reprisals. This could have been a dark, dire play but thankfully it had just the right tone, with some emotional moments mixed with some fun show tunes that were a mix of funny, jazzy and moving. The cast are incredibly talented, all able to dance, sing and play a variety of instruments without a bum note! The two hour long halves whizzed by and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. The songs aren't particularly memorable and I wasn't humming them when I left but the experience and the talent more than made up for this. 

Tastemaker

Had no idea what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised. The theatre is set as the Cabaret making it an intimate experience. We were seated in a lovely booth with a great view of the stage. The story was endearing and touched on sensitive topics of the era without being too much and taking away from the story. I felt a connection to the characters, the songs were catchy. I especially liked Berlin, sung by the George character which had a Cabaret tone to it. Now, I personally loved the raunchy tunes Miss Nightingale sang especially My Pussy, because I could imagine the times and the lightheartedness it would bring to Londoners in constant fear of air raids. The harmonies between the actors was excellent, I was amazed at their talent because each of them also played multiple instruments. So, well acted, great voices, good story, and comfy seats...what more could you want for a night out.

tastemaker

I saw this performance last night and absolutely loved it! The cabaret style seating makes you feel like you’re really in the wartime bar watching Miss Nightingale’s show. The actors are extremely talented - with lovely voices and the ability to play multiple instruments and dance! I felt attached to the characters and storyline. While the plot is quite serious and a bit dark at times, it’s pleasanlty split up with hilarious and cleverly written songs! I had a lovely night and truly enjoyed this show!


I've seen the show a couple of times and its a fantastic piece of theatre. Both times I got completely wrapped up in the story and didn't eant it to end. I was certinly humming a few of the tunes on the way home - they're pretty catchy!

tastemaker

Matthew Bugg’s wartime musical Miss Nightingale is a musical play that is set in London, 1942.  The whole set which never changes is set up as an underground cabaret club that is up and running during the war-torn city with bombs being dropped in and around London and with many blackouts. Theatre was a very important part of London life during the war as a way to escape.

A nurse called Maggie Brown (played by Tamar Broadbent) is enrolled as the new saucy singer for the underground club with her stage name being Miss Nightingale.  She is in a relationship with Tom Fuller (played by Niall Kerrigan) who gets her the job at the club. However this relationship does not last that long. The boss of the club is Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (played by Nicholas Coutu-Langmead). Sir Frank gets into a relationship with Jurek ‘George’ Nowodny (played by Conor O’Kane) who Maggie house shares with as is her dead brothers Portuguese friend and she took pity on him.  Maggie’s boss Sir Frank forms two different kinds of relationships. One with George which Sir Frank struggles to bring their love out of the shadows due to how people felt about homosexuality back in that era and with his reputation Sir Frank also formed another type of relationship with Maggie to keep his relationship hidden from the papers with which he has with George his true love.  There is so many twists, turns, blackmail, laughs, sauciness, singing and surprises that happen during this musical bonanza that lasts 2 hours 30 minutes it most definitely is one that is not to be missed.

The story and the singing from all the cast is spectacular certainly does keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.  Many of the songs are very tongue in cheek and saucy like the songs “Got to get your sausage where you can” and “The pussy song” etc.  I especially was blown away when all three main performers sung together singing something different but in the same sort of context and same emotional feelings.  This is most definitely a unique type of play set around one set that never changes but the acting and the singing is so superb that no set change does not matter. 

Plus the music and the vast array of musical instruments that are played throughout the play was outstanding from Maggie (Tamar) who plays the Piano at times, Frank (Nicholas) who plays a vast number of different instruments from the violin to ukulele, George (Conor) who plays the piano at times, Tom (Niall) who plays at times the drums and percussion, Harry (Matthew Bugg) who plays various instruments form the Sax to the accordion and lastly Clifford (Tobias Oliver) who plays the double bass.

If you love musicals, love cabaret, loves twists, love sauciness then I highly recommend seeing this play as it is such a blast!


Tastemaker

A beautiful story, brilliant actors and hilarious songs.

Hidden behind Waterloo Station in the Vaults Theatre the WW2 based story, Miss Nightingale, is brought to life. The hokey pokey theatre is the perfect location for this one set stage production - with only 6 actors, all playing various instruments throughout, there wouldn't be any more time for set changes. There are enough costume changes as it it for Miss Nightingale, all of which add glamour to the production, which the saucy songs stomp all over. 

The story is based around 3 main characters trials in love and life. In to this is woven some comedy - carefully done - and fabulous musical numbers. Each song was either fun or fraught and sung brilliantly - not one weak link from the actors. This musical is a must see before it finishes it's London stint at the end of May.

P.S. the theatre is quite cold so bring a jumper!