Parenthood by Fluffy Top Productions
Parenthood – a Musical Review by Fluffy Top Productions
Parenthood is a brand new musical review with custom written music created by the Kent based husband and wife team of Emily Clare and Pete Moody. Aimed very much at an adult audience the show is a comedy musical leading you alone the journey of parenthood with all its highs and lows.
Parenthood is a musical review rather than a full blown musical and concentrates on the songs. On taking our seats the audience is presented with an impressive looking set designed by Dave Kerry. It consisted of oversized letter blocks and a giant sized play kitchen and on starting the preshow announcement is done by a child (the creator’s son). The show kicks in with the title song which is nice and catchy and is followed by a collection totalling 22 songs along with an occasional vocal sketch.
A cast of 9 took to the stage performing well and generally closely matched in ability however Mark Fromings for me was much stronger than the rest of the cast and reading the programme bios was surprised to see that while he had some professional experience in the past currently works as an economics teacher.
The tech side appeared to be provided by the theatre rather than the show. The lighting design and operation was poor with performers being unlit on a number of occasions through the show. Sadly the poor standard of lighting was overshadowed by the sound consisting of a substandard system not suitable for the performance, a sound desk which seemed to have not had anybody set up the equalisation of the mics leading to a “fluffy” vocal quality and a broken radio mic cable leading to regular crackling overpowering the voices. The control of the mic volumes during the show was little better. Often they were turned on after the performers had started singing meaning we couldn’t hear the vocalists for large chunks of the show unless you were near enough to the stage to hear the acoustic voice. At other times backing vocals and harmonies were so loud they drowned out the main vocal line.
With this being a musical review rather than a story led musical I was expecting almost a concert style of music production however the show claims to follow the milestones of the parenting journey which to me suggested a story being told through the songs. The journey of this show was a little confusing, while the songs seemed in order of child ageing it felt like there was a fair amount of partner swapping going on, fine in a concert style review but on a journey maybe we needed to stick to 1 or 2 sets parental couples all the way through.
The big thing that reminds you that this is a musical review rather than a story musical was some quite lengthy black outs between “scenes.” Some of the set movements (constant moving of the letter blocks) felt a little unnecessary and there seemed to be a regular attempt to pick up cheap laughs with an odd insult or swear word when in real life parenting there is plenty of experiences that could be drawn on which are funny in hindsight.
I understand that the plan is to keep the show in its current format which I think will be a shame if that is the case as I found it a little underwhelming. I do love the concept behind the show and there are some great songs in place. Considering this was a musical review we were given a glimpse of what I hope will be a great script to follow. The “school report” scene was brilliant and shows the potential is definitely there if the creators choose to develop the show in this way. With custom written songs they do progress the show through the aging of children in a very honest way although my favourite song was, “Aunty Jen”, a song about a woman under social pressure but no desire to have children.
From the 22 song sketches in the show I did enjoy over half of them however a select few need to be under consideration of being dropped to make way for a script which will help make the story and journey flow.
There is definitely a lot of potential for this musical going forward and I happily await the advancement of the show to see the direction it takes.
Parenthood – A Musical Review is running until the 17th November at Midkent Theatre.