Julie: The Musical at The Other Palace Studio

Le Gasp! Productions’ JULIE: The Musical is a hilarious and witty celebration of non-conformity based on the life of queer icon, Julie D’Aubigny, and her experiences as a worshipped opera singer, renowned swordswoman and flaming bisexual.

Sitting in the studio in the depths of The Other Palace, I awaited excited as I saw one by one what I thought were the 4 members of the band take the stage. What I quickly realised was these were four incredibly talented actor musicians that not only played a variety of instruments each but also played multiple roles throughout the entire show.

Leading Julie; The Musical was Sam Kearney-Edwardes as Julie D’Aubigny herself who let us know instantly that we were in safe hands. The show revolved around Julie telling her story and engaging with us, the audience, which Sam did with ease. When one of her first lines was asking us if we wanted to hear about how she f***** a nun, I knew we were in for a hilarious evening. Sam had a great voice and handled Julie’s highs and lows very well. I felt like I was seeing a completely different person by the end of the show.

Melinda Orengo played the love of Julie’s life, Marie De Florensac. Instantly likeable, sweet and fierce. The relationship between Julie and Marie was done beautifully and you were on their side throughout. A highlight of the show for me was Marie’s song in Act 2 where she outlined always being leered at by men. It felt like a mixture of All You Wanna Do from Six with the tone of Dark I Know Well from Spring Awakening and I was hooked.

Zachary Pang played Count D’Albert, Julie’s friend and sometimes lover as well as many more. Zachary had me laughing from the off. His portrayal of the King had me in stitches. He moved from comedy to drama seamlessly. As D’Albert, being the voice of reason to Julie when she was in a downward spiral in particular, was very good.

And last, but by certainly no means least, we have Abey Bradbury as Thevenard. But it does not stop there. As well as all the roles she played in the show, almost all of which had me laughing out loud, and all the instruments she played, Abey also wrote the book, music, orchestrations and lyrics. She was the Musical Director, assisted by Sam Kearney-Edwardes, and did the costumes as well. Where does the talent end? Of her performance, Abey was hilarious. I couldn’t pick just one stand out. From the pushover husband to Julie’s rival Thevenard, she did the thing. She even managed to alter her lines slightly after a lyric mistake when attempting to woo Julie which had the audience howling. A pro.

The book was great. Act 2 flowed slightly better and Julie’s downward spiral was the only part that had me scratching my head but was resolved quickly by D’Albert assuring Julie and us that they all were not just characters in her own show. The book in general brought Julie’s chaotic story to life very well and encompassed a lot.

The music was fun and was sung to perfection by all involved. Gorgeous harmonies. Some were more memorably than others. Standouts were Marie De Florensac, On The Run!, Fine (It’s Fine), Lesbians Don’t Exist and Breath again.

Costumes were gorgeous. They felt trendy and modern but still within the style of the piece which I loved. The set too was clever in its use of archways alluding to the style of the time while also being slightly fractured to make it feel edgy. I particularly liked where Marie was placed for most of the show. The set there surrounding her almost felt like she was a Barbie in a box on display which reflects how the character herself feels.

Direction by Conor Dye was very well done. In a show like this where the four performers are playing so many different roles, it’s important that they all come across and Conor made sure that was definitely the case. The only thing I felt is that the pace could have been quicker in Act 1. With so much going on in Julie’s fantastical life, the first half felt a bit long. Lighting and Sound were good and complimented the action. I loved when Julie spoke directly to the lighting operator and asked her not to fade.

JULIE: The Musical really has it all. I laughed from beginning to end, my heartstrings were plucked and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The amount of talent on that stage is crazy. I feel I am better off having learned about Julie D’Aubigny, this chaotic, unapologetic, flawed and wonderful bisexual.

Review by Michael Flanagan

Julie: The Musical is on at the Other Palace Studio until 30th June. You can find out more and book tickets here.

If you like this review you might also like my review of Six, Choir of Man and Standing at The Sky’s Edge.

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