‘Ruthless! The Musical’ review
Time Out says
Camp, flimsy musical theatre spoof
A little girl with pigtails and a terrifyingly bright smile stalks through this parody musical, a revival of an off-Broadway hit that once starred the pre-fame Natalie Portman and Britney Spears. How much you enjoy ‘Ruthless’ slightly depends on how hilarious you find the sight of a small child cursing and battling her way to the top. Oh, and how much you like musical theatre: if you can say ‘Broadway’ without a rolled ‘r’ and spontaneous jazz hands, this show probably isn’t for you.
Joel Paley’s book is an unholy mash-up of musical theatre fan favourites ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Mame’ – with a touch of ‘The Bad Seed’ pre-teen psychopathy for good measure. Eight-year-old Tina Denmark has set her heart on the lead role in the school play. Her perky, Stepford Wife-esque mother Judy is cautiously supportive. But then Sylvia, an agent and acting coach who just happens to be in town, crashes her way into their lives and feeds Tina’s tap-dancing ambition.
Anya Evans is very funny as little Tina – and so is off-Broadway star Kim Maresca as her mother Judy, who cheerfully denies having any talent, even as her lip wobbles in virtuosic vibrato. The ‘serious bit’, insofar as there is one, comes from the show’s thesis that talent is an inescapable, inherited curse. The idea has a real darkness to it, especially when you think of all the musical theatre greats whose lives were cut short by a desperate need for fame. But the firmly unhorrifying ‘Ruthless’ doesn’t find that darkness, really. Even as a musical theatre fan, raised on home videos of MGM’s schlockiest output, I still can’t see what this musical’s exploration of unswerving ambition gives you that the first act of ‘Gypsy’ doesn’t.
Richard Fitch’s production hits all the show’s campy bases, but the slapstick is fumbled, and the murderous gore is so tame that none of the audience, even its child star, will need to sleep with the night light on afterwards. Really it’s another sticky-fingered homage to that most self-loving of genres, musical theatre - and I’m not sure there’s an audience for it. An all-drag version at The Glory? Now that would get pulses racing.
Users say (9)
Average User Rating
4.3 / 5
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This is a show for audiences, not for critics. The critics are bashing it but it's one of the best nights I've had at the theatre for months (and I go multiple times a week). It is very very funny. There are some extra jokes in there for musical theatre lovers - if you know GYPSY or MAME you are in for a treat - but even if these references go over your head, it's still very entertaining. Cast are great - especially Anya Evans, Tracie Bennett and Kim Maresca. I see a lot of musicals and am generally quite critical. The book of this musical was far more sophisticated that a number of shows I have seen recently. I will definitely be going back!
loved it - was fast moving, funny, dark, a few cuss words, great singing, totally enjoyable.
Yes it's panned by the critics, however my daughter loved it and is still singing the Pippi song - we are going back to see it and taking a few friends.
Good acting but terrible script! The first part is witty and makes sense. The second part is awful. There is a lot of unnecessary swearing, drugs taking, gratuitous and random violence, all of which involved the supposedly 8 year cold character. The plot does not follow at all on the second part. It is a bunch of random actions with no logic lead up to them. It is a shame as the acting is good but would not recommend it at all and do not even think of taking children to watch it! Not a good musical at all. When there is so many good musicals out there it is a shame this is actually allowed to be shown. I found it totally disgraceful! It is the worse musical I have ever seen by far. Or rather the only terrible musical I have ever seen!