I admit I was not overly enamoured with Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick when I read it a few years ago. I dismissed it as one part story, six parts DIY whaling manual. Going to see the musical version at the Union Theatre was a decision I made with some trepidation, but in the end I loved it – far more entertaining than the book.
Rather than being a straightforward adaptation of the story, Moby Dick! The Musical is presented as an adaptation by a girls’ school, St Godley’s Academy, supposedly written by one of the pupils and making use of gym equipment when it comes to props. The result is a hilarious adventure, as we follow the crew as they sail the high seas in search of the great white whale. The book by Robert Longden is lots of fun, and the music and lyrics, by Longden and Hereward Kaye, are hugely entertaining and catchy. I loved the nods to previous musicals, notably Phantom.
The cast are superb: I particularly liked Anton Stephans’ Captain Ahab, and Brenda Edwards as his wife Esta. Rachel Anne Rayham was also superb as Ishmael, almost unrecognisable from her recent role in Grey Gardens.
Overall, a brilliant show and one that even managed to get me dancing at the end. Unmissable fun.