Secret Society of Leading Ladies by the Barn Theatre
The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a brand new concept from the Barn Theatre. It puts the audience in control of the set list in a world where different musical theatre characters can exist in the same room.
When the show starts you are faced with a choice of 3 different performers with 3 different musical theatre characters and their songs. As the show progresses this happens 5 times until you have a cast of 5 different characters. When watching it for the first time my choices including Janis from Mean Girls, Anastasia, The Witch from Into The Woods, Lauren from Kinky Boots and Bonnie from Bonnie & Clyde whereas by contrast, the second time round I chose Becky from Waitress, Fiona from Shrek, Regina from Mean Girls, Shelley from Steel Pier and Molly from Ghost.
The dialogue between the characters in between the songs is kept short and it simply focuses on how they came to be there and who brought them there. However the beauty of the show doesn’t lie within the dialogue. The song choices feel fresh and varied and at each option choice I was torn as to which character to choose.
This element of choice added something fresh to the show. We have all seen quite a few live streamed concerts by now but the choice element gave it a different edge and helped keep me engaged throughout.
The production values also deserve a nod. The camera work was kept very simple but it was crystal clear and the same can be said for the sound quality, I didn’t miss a single word. You could tell that a lot had gone into making it look and sound so simple!
I also loved the variety of leading ladies that were part of the production. Some of them I have seen before such as Aoife Clesham (Fiver) and Jarneia Richard-Noel (Six) where as others such as Allie Daniel, Abbi Hodsgon and Natalie Kassanga were new to me. All of these leading ladies had their own individual style which was reflected in such different song choices. When watching it back the second time, even the delivery of the same lines was so different! It was also lovely to see all of the women together for the finalie, even if they weren’t physically on the stage at the same time. The editing for the Big Finish almost made me forget that they weren’t all together and had me singing along at home with them (one of the benefits of watching from home!).
There were some individual performances that I must mention, Emma Kingstone sang Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad and it was a stunning version of it, full of emotion as well as incredible vocal control. I also enjoyed the comedy delivered by Kelly Sweeney during Morning Person and the added CGI bird made me really smile.
The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is a fun new concept for all musical theatre fans however the shorter running time and the interactive element makes it so much more accessible for those that may not be a die hard fan…yet!! I do hope that ideas such as this path the way for more ingenious styles of streaming, even when theatres are open again.
The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is running until the 7th March. You can either purchase a single use ticket or one which will allow you to watch all of the performances! Tickets can be purchased here.